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Carufe v. Intercontinental Hotels Group Resources, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

September 5, 2014

ANTHONY CARUFE
v.
INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP RESOURCES, INC

MEMORANDUM

TODD J. CAMPBELL, District Judge.

Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 18). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.

FACTS

Plaintiff is a former employee of Defendant who worked as General Manager of Defendant's Holiday Inn Briley Parkway Hotel ("the Hotel"). Plaintiff has sued Defendant for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") and the Tennessee Human Rights Act ("THRA"), based upon Defendant's termination of his employment.

Defendant argues that its reason for firing Plaintiff had nothing to do with age. Defendant asserts that Plaintiff was fired because he failed to perform his job responsibilities in accordance with Defendant's standards.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Summary judgment is appropriate where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Pennington v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co., 553 F.3d 447, 450 (6th Cir. 2009). The party bringing the summary judgment motion has the initial burden of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute over material facts. Rodgers v. Banks, 344 F.3d 587, 595 (6th Cir. 2003). The moving party may satisfy this burden by presenting affirmative evidence that negates an element of the non-moving party's claim or by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Id.

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review all the evidence, facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Van Gorder v. Grand Trunk Western Railroad, Inc., 509 F.3d 265, 268 (6th Cir. 2007). The Court does not, however, weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court determines whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper jury question. Id. The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position will be insufficient to survive summary judgment; rather, there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the nonmoving party. Rodgers, 344 F.3d at 595.

AGE DISCRIMINATION

Direct evidence

A violation of the ADEA[1] can be proven by either direct or circumstantial evidence. Provenzano v. LCI Holdings, Inc. 663 F.3d 806, 811 (6th Cir. 2011).[2] Direct evidence of discrimination is that evidence which, if believed, requires the conclusion that unlawful discrimination was the motivating factor in the employer's actions. Sharp v. Aker Plant Services Group, Inc., 726 F.3d 789, 798 (6th Cir. 2013).

Defendant argues that Plaintiff has no direct evidence of discrimination. Plaintiff alleges several ageist comments by his Regional Director of Operations ("RDO"), Ms. Kilmartin. Ms. Kilmartin, who was Plaintiff's boss, denies making these statements.

Defendant's assertion that Plaintiff claims only one single age-related statement is not true. Plaintiff testified that Ms. Kilmartin called him old, with old ideas and past his proper life cycle; that she asked him what he was doing there so long; that she said, "I can't believe you've been here so long;" and that she told him the owners wanted him out. Docket No. 20-4, p. 28 (Plaintiff's Deposition, p. 107). These alleged statements relate to Plaintiff's job and to his age. In addition, Plaintiff testified that Ms. Kilmartin later told him he was old and he was sleepy. Id. (p. 108 of deposition).

Thus, if a jury believes the testimony of Plaintiff, it reasonably could find direct evidence of discrimination, which precludes summary judgment. A jury also reasonably could find that Ms. Kilmartin did not make these statements, but there are genuine disputed issues of fact concerning ...


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