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London v. Youngstown Ohio Hospital Co., LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

November 9, 2017

BEVERLY LONDON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
YOUNGSTOWN OHIO HOSPITAL COMPANY, LLC. dba VALLEYCARE HEALTH SYSTEM dba NORTHSIDE MEDICAL CENTER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          GEORGE J. LIMBERT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The instant matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Youngstown Ohio Hospital Company, LLC dba Valleycare Health System dba Northside Medical Center (“Defendant”). ECF Dkt. #26. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion (ECF Dkt. #26) and DISMISSES Plaintiffs' amended complaint in its entirety WITH PREJUDICE:

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On September 19, 2016, Plaintiffs Beverly London (“Plaintiff London”) and Michelle Scott (“Plaintiff Scott”) filed a complaint in this Court. ECF Dkt. #1. They indicated that they were ages 63 and 60, respectively, and were former employees of Defendant. Id. at 3. They averred that Plaintiff London was hired in 1972 as a nurse's aide and she was later promoted to a Unit Secretary position, while Plaintiff Scott was hired as a housekeeper in 1978 and later also promoted to the position of Unit Secretary. Id. They further averred that Plaintiff London had been disciplined only once in 44 years and Plaintiff Scott had never been disciplined in 37 years of employment. Id.

         Plaintiffs London and Scott alleged in the complaint that on or about February 9, 2016, Defendant informed them that it was eliminating all Unit Secretary positions and replacing the position with a new position called a Unit Technician position, which combined the Unit Secretary position with the Personal Care Assistant (“PCA”) position, although the PCA position was not being eliminated and the current PCAs were not losing their positions. ECF Dkt. #1 at 3. Plaintiffs London and Scott further averred that all but one of the ten Unit Secretaries were over the age of 55. Id. They further alleged that Defendant informed the Unit Secretaries that they had until February 17, 2016 to take a layoff, “bump” to another job, or bid on or apply for the new Unit Technician positions. Id. at 4. According to Plaintiffs London and Scott, Defendant informed them that any Unit Secretary hired as a Unit Technician would receive training. Id.

         Plaintiffs London and Scott further allege in their complaint that they applied for the Unit Technician position and Plaintiff London was one of three Unit Secretaries who was granted a Unit Technician position. ECF Dkt. #1 at 4. They aver that the other five Unit Technician positions were awarded to PCAs who were substantially younger than them. Id. They further aver that they were then informed that the Unit Technician positions were not being awarded based upon seniority, so they filed a union grievance indicating that the Unit Technician positions were not awarded according to seniority and they noted that the positions were awarded to substantially younger employees who did not have as much seniority or training as the Unit Secretaries. Id.

         According to Plaintiffs London and Scott, Defendant thereafter withdrew all of the Unit Technician positions, including that of Plaintiff London, and then reopened the positions for bidding. ECF Dkt. #1 at 5. Plaintiffs London and Scott re-bid on the positions and neither they, nor any of the Unit Secretaries, were awarded a Unit Technician position as those positions were given to substantially younger PCAs who lacked experience as Unit Secretaries, which was part of the Unit Technician positions. Id. Plaintiffs London and Scott averred that they had experience as nurses' aides, which are similar to the PCAs positions. Id.

         Plaintiffs London and Scott aver that Defendant terminated their employment on April 8, 2016 and deliberately eliminated the Unit Secretary positions to replace the Unit Secretaries with substantially younger PCAs. ECF Dkt. #1 at 5. They aver that they suffered severe emotional distress, anxiety and depression as a result of their wrongful termination by Defendant. Id.

         In the complaint, Plaintiffs London and Scott allege claims in violation of 29 U.S.C. §621, et seq., the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), retaliatory discrimination in violation of the ADEA, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”). ECF Dkt. #1 at 6-8.

         On October 25, 2016, Plaintiffs London and Scott filed an amended complaint, which added Plaintiff Gavolas (“Plaintiff Gavolas”)(collectively “Plaintiffs”) and expanded upon the complaint allegations. ECF Dkt. #3. In the amended complaint, Plaintiffs also set forth their filing of Charges of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the EEOC's issuance of Right to Sue letters, evidencing their exhaustion of administrative remedies. Id. at 2-3.

         Plaintiffs aver in the amended complaint that Plaintiffs London and Gavolas were granted Unit Technician positions after the first round of bidding, but Plaintiff Scott did not receive a position. ECF Dkt. #3 at 5. They reallege that on or about February 29, 2016, they were informed that the Unit Technician positions were not being awarded based on seniority and Plaintiffs and the other Unit Secretaries filed a union grievance because of this. Id. Plaintiffs also noted that the Unit Technician positions were awarded to substantially younger employees who lacked the seniority or training as the Unit Secretaries. Id.

         Plaintiffs reallege that on or about March 17, 2016, Defendant withdrew all of the Unit Technician positions as a result of the settlement of the union grievance and reopened the positions for bidding in compliance with the settlement, for which each Plaintiff rebid. ECF Dkt. #3 at 6. Plaintiffs aver that none of them were awarded a Unit Technician position and all of those positions were awarded to substantially younger PCAs. Id. Plaintiffs assert that on or about April 8, 2016, Defendant terminated their employment. Id. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant deliberately eliminated the Unit Secretary position to replace the Unit Secretaries with substantially younger PCAs. Id. Plaintiffs aver that Defendant's reason for the termination of their employment is a pretext for age discrimination. Id.

         Plaintiffs reassert claims of discrimination, wrongful termination, and retaliation in violation of the ADEA and IIED. ECF Dkt. #3 at 12. Defendant answered the amended complaint on December 2, 2016. ECF Dkt. #9.

         On August 28, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion for summary judgment. ECF Dkt. #26. On September 27, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. ECF Dkt. #28. On October 11, 2017, Defendant filed a reply brief. ECF Dkt. #29.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in pertinent part that the Court "shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, Advisory Committee Notes ("The standard for granting summary judgment remains unchanged" despite 2010 amendments to Rule 56). Rule ...


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