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Cardinali v. County of Monroe

United States District Court, W.D. New York

October 31, 2017

SERAFINO CARDINALI Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF MONROE, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. FRANK P. GERACI JR. Chief Judge United States District Court

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Serafino Cardinali alleges that his former employer, the County of Monroe ("Defendant"), unlawfully discriminated against him by forcing him to retire early. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that Defendant violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., when it eliminated his job as an associate engineer for the County's Department of Environmental Services ("DES"). ECF No. 1. Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF No. 22. For the reasons stated below, the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Facts

         Plaintiff worked for 20 years as an associate engineer for the Monroe County DES in the Engineering and Facilities Division. ECF No. 16. In 2012, Plaintiff told his supervisor Jason Kennedy that he planned to retire in December 2013.[1] ECF No. 22-10 at 11; ECF No. 22-8 at 15.

         As Chief of the Department's Engineering and Facilities Division, Mr. Kennedy was in charge of the Division's budgeting efforts. ECF No. 22-15 at 1; ECF No. 22-9 at 8. Relying on Plaintiffs expressed retirement plans to Mr. Kennedy, Defendant eliminated funding for Plaintiffs position in the 2014 DES budget. ECF No. 22-8 at 27.

         Plaintiff then had a change of heart, and in the fall of 2013, expressed to Mr. Kennedy his desire to postpone his retirement to 2014 for financial reasons. ECF No. 22-8 at 27. Mr. Kennedy informed Plaintiff that postponing his retirement would not be possible, as DES could no longer fund Plaintiffs position in 2014. Id. Mr. Kennedy allegedly informed Plaintiff that he had the right to partake in "bumping, " a process through which Plaintiff could take the job of a less senior associate engineer. ECF No. 22-15 at 3. Specifically, Plaintiff could "bump" David Cross, a younger and less experienced associate engineer. Id. Plaintiff, on the other hand, says that Mr. Kennedy discouraged him from exercising his bumping rights. ECF No. 22-8 at 28. Against his wishes, Plaintiff retired from his position in December of 2013. Id. at 11. After Plaintiffs retirement, his former coworkers Irving Murph, who is approximately Plaintiffs age, and Donald Irvine, who is roughly ten years younger than Plaintiff, assumed his duties. ECF No. 22-17 at 11.

         Plaintiff suspects that his supervisors' true motives for defunding his position were not innocuous or merely budgetary. In his deposition, he posits numerous theories about why Defendant actually terminated him: his superiors at the County "didn't trust" him because he reported them to government investigators "for soliciting funds for the Monroe County Republican Party, " they thought he was "too tough" in enforcing the building code for particular projects, they "just didn't like" his personality, they did not like that he would not stay at work "after 5 o'clock, " they were upset when he stopped contributing to the annual office holiday party, and they were angry that he refused to watch one of his supervisors perform in a band. ECF. 22-8 at 36-38, 54, 61-68, 73-75, 77-80. Plaintiff believes that his bosses were most upset about his unwillingness to contribute to the Monroe County Republican Party and his communications with government investigators on that matter.[2]

II. Procedural History

         On September 23, 2014, Plaintiff sued Defendant under the ADEA, the New York State Civil Service Law §107, Executive law §296 and §297, and Rule XXVII of the Monroe County Civil Service Commission, for employment discrimination based upon age and in retaliation for Plaintiffs refusal to contribute money to a political party, and for reporting requests for monetary contributions to a political party. ECF No. 1.

         On March 4, 2015, Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings on the basis that Plaintiff could not establish a, prima facie case of age discrimination under the ADEA, and that Plaintiffs state law claims were both meritless and failed to comply with the procedure mandated by New York County Law § 52. ECF No. 13. This Court dismissed Plaintiffs state law claims as procedurally barred, but denied Defendant's motion with respect to Plaintiffs ADEA claim. ECF No. 18.

         On April 27, 2017, Defendant moved for summary judgment on Plaintiffs surviving ADEA claim. ECF No. 22. Defendant argues that Plaintiff failed to present facts showing that ...


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