The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAROLD BAER, JR., District Judge
Defendant Federal Reserve Bank of New York ("the FRBNY") moves
for summary judgment on plaintiff John F. Cravetts' ("Cravetts")
Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621
et seq., claim. For the reasons set forth below, the FRBNY's
motion is granted.
From April 12, 1993 to December 2, 2002, Cravetts worked as an
electrician in the FRBNY's East Rutherford Operations Center
("EROC") in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Among its many
functions, the Federal Reserve provides services, including
"financial services to the U.S. government, to the public, to
financial institutions, and to foreign official institutions
[and] playing a major role in operating the nation's payments
systems." Federal Reserve System, Frequently Asked
Questions.*fn1 The EROC plays a vital role in these
services. As the financial-services arm of the FRBNY, the EROC
processes an average of 3.2 million checks each day, which are
valued at approximately $4 billion. The "EROC also maintains the
largest cash vault in the world and handles over $1 billion in
U.S. currency, thousands of pounds of coin, and millions of food
coupons each day." Def. 56.1 Statement ¶ 5 (citing Hall Aff. ¶
3). Finally, the EROC houses one of three Federal Reserve
Information Technology ("FRIT") sites in the Federal Reserve
system. The FRIT system "provides the national
information-technology infrastructure for the Federal Reserve"
and operates the computers that process over $2.5 trillion in funds and electronic payments each day. Id. Suffice to say,
the EROC plays a vital role in the functioning of the Federal
The EROC facilities are operated, maintained, and repaired by
EROC Property Management Division ("EROC PMD"). One of the
critical functions of EROC PMD is to provide uninterrupted
electrical support for FRIT and the cash and check processing
operations at the EROC. The maintenance staff of EROC PMD is
comprised of electricians, heating, ventilation, and air
conditioning mechanics, carpenters, a plumber, and a painter.
During his employ, Cravetts, was one of four electricians on EROC
PMD's staff.*fn2 Cravetts was 50 years old when he was hired
and 60 years old when he was terminated. The three other
electricians, Arthur Denny ("Denny"), George Dingler ("Dingler"),
and James Tierney ("Tierney"), were all over 50 years of age
during Cravetts' employment with the FRBNY. Many other
maintenance staff members were in their 50's or 60's. In fact,
the oldest member of the maintenance staff, Howard Wartel, was in
his mid-70s during this time.
The EROC PMD electricians are responsible for, inter alia,
the installation, maintenance, and repair of the EROC electrical
systems, including those that supply power to FRIT. The EROC
computer systems are powered by two Uninterruptible Power Sources
("UPSs). The UPSs are designed to avoid any power fluctuations,
which can disrupt the computer systems. The continuity of power
is aided by twenty-one Static Transfer Switches ("STSs"), which
automatically switch power from one UPS to the other should there
be an interruption of service.
On November 2, 2002, personnel at FRIT informed the EROC
Building Operations Director, John. J. O'Neill ("O'Neill"), that
circuits previously installed by Tierney had not been properly
identified and labeled. O'Neill assigned Cravetts and Denny to
fix the problem and they began work on November 17, 2002. Two
days later, the employee responsible for the maintenance of the
STSs, discovered that ten of the STSs had gone into emergency
response on the same day Cravetts and Denny worked on the circuit
identification and re-labeling project, and as a result, several
of the STSs switched power over to a single UPS. This resulted in
a sudden strain on the electrical system. On November 22, 2002, Brian Henry ("Henry"), Chief
Engineer,*fn3 met with Cravetts and Denny separately to
discuss the events of November 17, 2002. Following these
discussions, Henry remained suspicious and therefore obtained
surveillance footage of the FRIT data center where Cravetts and
Denny worked on the date in question. The video revealed that
Cravetts was using an unknown device rather than the professional
current tracer, a professionally tested device that is issued to
EROC PMD electricians to identify circuits. On November 24, 2002,
Henry dropped in on Cravetts and Denny as they completed the
circuit project and saw the device depicted in the surveillance
video. The device used by Cravetts was a homemade power switch
connected by two wires to an electrical plug. Two other similar
devices were found in Cravetts' locker. After an investigation
and based on the findings of the EROC PMD supervisors, Edward
Hall ("Hall"), the person in charge of overseeing EROC
facilities, concluded that by using these home-made devices,
Cravetts had disregarded safety considerations and exposed vital
EROC systems to undue risk. This conclusion was based on the fact
that Cravetts' actions could have resulted in an unexpected shut
down of important EROC computer systems, thus impairing important
FRBNY functions. On December 2, 2002, Hall recommended that the
FRBNY terminate Cravetts' employment. Thereafter, pursuant to
company policy, two FRBNY human resources employees approved the
On May 29, 2003, Cravetts filed a charge with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), in which he
complained that his termination was based on impermissible
age-related discrimination. Specifically, Cravetts averred that
it was a result of his "point[ing] out that a steel railing was a
violation of code and posed an electrical hazard [that he] was
fired." Def. Ex. 9 at 2. The EEOC dismissed the charge on
September 12, 2003 because it was unable to establish a violation
and issued a right to sue letter on September 16, 2003. Cravetts
instituted the instant lawsuit on December 9, 2003.
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Fed.R. Civ. P.")
56(c), a district court must grant summary judgment if the
evidence demonstrates that "there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and [that] the moving party is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).
"Summary judgment is properly regarded not as a disfavored
procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the
Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed to `secure the just,
speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'" Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986) (quoting Fed.R. Civ.
To determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact,
the Court must resolve all ambiguities and draw all inferences
against the moving party. United States v. Diebold, Inc.,
369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962) (per curiam); Donahue v. Windsor Locks Bd.
of Fire Comm'rs, 834 F.2d 54, 57 (2d Cir. 1987). However, the
mere existence of disputed factual issues is insufficient to
defeat a motion for summary judgment. Knight v. U.S. Fire Ins.
Co., 804 F.2d 9, 11-12 (2d Cir. 1986). The disputed issues of
fact must be "material to the outcome of the litigation," id.
at 11, and must be backed by evidence that would allow "a
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party,"
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The non-movant "must do more than simply show
that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts."
Id. With respect to materiality, "substantive law will identify
which facts are material. Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will
properly preclude entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes
that are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be counted."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
As in other areas of litigation, summary judgment is available
in the context of discrimination suits. Weinstock v. Columbia
Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000). The Second Circuit has,
however, urged courts to exercise caution in the grant of summary
judgment where intent is an issue, such as in discrimination
cases. Gallo v. Prudential Residential Svcs., Ltd.,
22 F.3d 1219, 1224 (2d Cir. 1994). Nevertheless, summary judgment is
appropriate "when an employer provides convincing evidence to
explain its conduct and the plaintiff's argument consists of
purely conclusory allegations of discrimination," thereby
eliminating any material issue of fact. Diaz v. Weill Med. Ctr.
of Cornell Univ., No. 02 Civ. 7380, 2004 WL 285947, at *14
(S.D.N.Y. Feb. 13, 2004).
To determine whether plaintiff's employment discrimination
claims will survive summary judgment, the Court applies the
burden-shifting scheme set out in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-4 (1973). See Terry v. Ashcroft,
336 F.3d 128, 138 (2d Cir. 2003). Under this scheme, plaintiff
must first make out a prima facie case of discrimination.
Id. at 137. If plaintiff makes such a showing, the burden
shifts to defendant to offer a nondiscriminatory rationale for its actions. Id. at 138. In the final step,
plaintiff must adduce sufficient admissible evidence to establish
that defendant was more likely than not motivated by
discrimination in its actions. Id. "Although intermediate
evidentiary burdens shift back and forth under this framework,
`[t]he ultimate burden of persuading the trier of fact that the
defendant intentionally discriminated against the plaintiff
remains at all times with the plaintiff.'" Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 143 (2000) (quoting Tex.
Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253 (1981)).