United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. THOMAS MARTEN, District Judge.
The court held a trial in this case beginning on February 18, 2014. Defendant UPS, Inc. moved for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50 after the close of plaintiff John Drape's case-in-chief on February 20. The court took the motion under advisement, subsequently granting the motion. The court ruled on the motion in open court, and files this motion to more fully explain the ruling.
John Drape sued UPS claiming he was the victim of age discrimination and retaliation under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The court granted partial summary judgment to UPS in its order dated December 23, 2014, which contains an exhaustive factual statement the court need not repeat here. See Dkt. 88. Despite whittling down the issues, the court's order left Drape's claims intact. The court found the following genuine issues of material fact would be appropriate for a jury to decide on Drape's age discrimination claim: (1) whether UPS's transfer of Drape from the red belt to the pink belt constituted an adverse employment action; (2) whether UPS treated Drape differently than similarly-situated employees for the same or similar conduct when it transferred him from the red belt to the pink belt; and (3) whether UPS had ultimately transferred Drape because of his age. The court found the following genuine issues of material fact would be appropriate for a jury to decide on Drape's retaliation claim: (1) whether Drape had a reasonable good-faith belief that his grievance filed on September 14, 2010, was protected opposition to discrimination; (2) whether Drape suffered a materially adverse employment action as a result of his termination, suspension and on-the-job supervision audit; (3) whether Drape suffered a materially adverse employment action as a result of his transfer from the red belt to the pink belt; and (4) whether UPS took action against Drape because of his age discrimination complaint.
II. Legal Standard - Judgment as Matter of Law
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state:
If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial and the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue, the court may
(A) resolve the issue against the party; and
(B) grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against the party on a claim or defense that, under the controlling law, can be maintained or defeated only with a favorable finding on that issue.
FED. R. CIV. P. 50(a)(1)(A)-(B). Judgment as a matter of law is appropriate when the evidence "conclusively favors one party such that reasonable [people] could not arrive at a contrary verdict." Weese v. Schuckman, 98 F.3d 542, 547 (10th Cir. 1996) (quoting W. Plains Serv. Corp. v. Ponderosa Dev. Corp., 769 F.2d 654, 656 (10th Cir. 1985)).
A. Age Discrimination
On his age discrimination claim, Drape had the burden of proving the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) that he was forty years of age or older;
(2) that he suffered an adverse employment action when he was reassigned from the red belt to the pink belt; and (3) that UPS would not have moved him from the red belt to the pink belt but for his age. See O'MALLEY, GRENIG, AND LEE, FEDERAL JURY PRACTICE AND INSTRUCTIONS § 173.20 (5th ed. 2000); Jones v. Oklahoma City Public Sch., 617 F.3d 1273, 1277 (10th Cir. 2010). The court granted judgment as a matter of law to UPS, finding ...