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Robinson v. Delphi Corp.

August 6, 2010

PATRICIA A. ROBINSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DELPHI CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Introduction

Plaintiff Patricia A. Robinson ("Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e), et seq. ("Title VII") and Article 15 of the New York State Human Rights law ("NYSHRL"), against Defendant Delphi Corporation*fn1 ("Delphi" or "Defendant"), alleging that Defendant discriminated against her on the basis of her gender. Specifically, Plaintiff, a female, alleges that she was qualified for the position for which Defendant sought applicants and that despite her qualifications, she was denied employment because of her gender.

Defendant denies Plaintiff's claims and moves for summary judgment against Plaintiff. In support of its motion, Defendant contends that Plaintiff cannot offer any proof sufficient to raise an inference that Defendant's failure to hire her was unlawfully motivated by her gender; that Defendant hired candidates whom it considered better qualified than Plaintiff, and that Plaintiff cannot prove that Defendant's non-discriminatory reasons supporting its hiring decision were false and merely a pretext to conceal unlawful gender bias. Plaintiff opposes Defendant's motion for summary judgment, on the basis that Defendant's stated reasons for failure to hire Plaintiff for the positions are simply a pretext for discrimination, and that there are genuine issues of material fact in dispute.

Background

In 2006, Delphi began an initiative to back fill positions vacated by employees who elected retirement or separation with new hires that would receive lower pay and benefits. (Holahan Aff. ¶ 6: Exhibit D). Approximately 1,100 hourly employees elected to separate or retire from Delphi's Lexington Avenue facility in 2006 and 2007. (Affidavit of Tracy Gilmore "Gilmore Aff." ¶ 10). Thereafter, Delphi hired hundreds of hourly replacement employees for the Lexington Avenue facility, of which 130 were skilled trade employees. (Gilmore Aff. ¶ 12). The recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process for skilled trade employees began in May 2006 and extended into early 2007. Id. The number of replacements recruited and hired varied over this time. Id.

On July 28, 2006, Plaintiff submitted an application for employment to Delphi for the positions of pipe fitter, millwright, or tinsmith. (Gilmore Aff. ¶ 15; Ex. A). Plaintiff's husband Lawrence Robinson submitted an application for employment during the same time period. (Ex. C). On September 30, 2006, Plaintiff interviewed with Senior Labor Relations Representative Tracy Gilmore, supervisor Paul Murty, and pipe fitter Michael Valenti for the position of pipe fitter. (Gilmore Aff. ¶ 18). During the interview, Plaintiff said that in her 12 years of employment at Valeo Electrical Systems, Inc. ("Valeo"), she was responsible for the maintenance and repair of the physical structure and utility services at Valeo's manufacturing facility. (Gilmore Aff. ¶¶ 20-21; Ex. A; Robinson Tr. 141-45). Plaintiff acknowledged that she had little training in hydraulics. (Gilmore Aff ¶ 21). Plaintiff was asked to review and answer questions about a hydraulic blueprint, which she answered correctly. (Complaint ¶ 15; Answer ¶ 12). When asked during the interview whether she was willing to work overtime and whether she was willing to work any shift, Plaintiff responded that she preferred to work days, and that she would work overtime, if pressed to do so. (Gilmore Aff. ¶ 22; Testimony of Patricia A. Robinson "Robinson Tr." 141-42).

At the time of Plaintiff's interview, Delphi was looking for approximately five pipe fitters to perform production maintenance, which involved repairing and maintaining the machinery and equipment that was used to make the automotive parts and other items produced at the Lexington Avenue facility. (Gilmore Aff. ¶ 18). In late September and early October, Delphi interviewed a number of potential candidates. (Gilmore Aff. ¶¶ 24-5). During this time frame, Tracy Gilmore met with Superintendent of Technical Services Noel Johnson to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the pool of candidates. (Gilmore Aff. ¶¶ 25-6). Gilmore expressed concern to Johnson about Plaintiff's lack of production maintenance experience and her hesitancy about shift work and overtime hours. (Gilmore Aff. ¶ 27). Johnson did not include Plaintiff in the pool of applicants selected to move to the next step of the hiring process. Id.

Lawrence Robinson, Plaintiff's husband, was offered a job with Delphi, but rejected the offer. (Gilmore Aff. ¶ 28; Robinson Tr. 154-55). Delphi selected candidates that it alleges were better equipped than Plaintiff to perform production maintenance. (Gilmore Aff. ¶¶ 31-5).

On or about February 28, 2007, Plaintiff filed a verified complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("SDHR") alleging that Defendant failed to offer her employment because of her gender. (Holahan Aff. ¶ 9; Ex. E). Plaintiff's gender discrimination complaint alleging failure to hire was also filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Id.

On August 8, 2007, after investigation into the Plaintiff's allegations, the SDHR found "probable cause" to support the Plaintiff's allegations that the Defendant failed to hire her because of gender-based discrimination and referred Plaintiff's administrative complaint for a public hearing. (Holahan Aff.¶ 10). Thereafter, the Plaintiff requested that the SDHR dismiss the Plaintiff's complaint for administrative convenience. (Holahan Aff.; Ex. "F"). Thereafter, the EEOC dismissed her discrimination complaint and issued her a right to sue notice dated May 14, 2008. (Holahan Aff.; Ex. "G"). Plaintiff filed this action on August 11, 2008.

Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "should be rendered if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." When considering a motion for summary judgment, all genuinely disputed facts must be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court finds that no rational jury could find in favor of ...


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