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Housley v. The Boeing Co.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

July 29, 2014

OLIVIA J. HOUSLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
THE BOEING COMPANY and SPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS, INC., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ERIC F. MELGREN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Olivia J. Housley ("Plaintiff") seeks monetary damages from her former employer, The Boeing Company ("Boeing"), and Spirit Aerosystems, Inc., ("Spirit") for alleged age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). This matter is before the Court on Boeing's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 36). For the reasons stated below, Boeing's motion is granted.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

This matter arises out of Boeing's sale of the assets of its commercial facilities in Wichita, Kansas (the "Wichita Division") to Spirit on June 16, 2005. On that same day, when the divestiture to Spirit was completed, Boeing terminated all employees of the Wichita Division. On June 17, 2005, Spirit began operations at the Wichita Division. As part of the sale, Boeing agreed to allow Spirit to use the Wichita Division managers to assess whether Spirit would offer any of the 10, 000 former Boeing employees employment in Spirit's Day-One workforce. Throughout Spirit's hiring process, Boeing also allowed Spirit to use personnel from the Wichita Division's Human Resources organization to oversee the selections. Spirit believed that a merit-based selection of approximately eighty-five percent of Boeing's existing workforce would allow Spirit to begin business with the best available employees and a more productive workforce.

Plaintiff was considered for employment in Spirit's Day-One workforce. Second-level manager Tom Brosius and first-level manager Mary Alumbaugh, who had had direct supervisory control over Plaintiff during her employment with Boeing, met with Human Resources representatives on March 1, 2005, to discuss the possibility of hiring Plaintiff for Spirit. Spirit developed seven criteria by which the managers were to evaluate the employees. Spirit's criteria explicitly prohibited the managers from evaluating the employees or making employment decisions based on the employee's race, gender, national origin, or age. Defendants allege that Plaintiff was not hired for employment in Spirit's Day-One workforce because she was perceived as having a lower level of skills and problems teaming. Plaintiff alleges that she was not hired because of her age. At the time of the hiring decision, Plaintiff was fifty-six years old.

Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint alleges two counts of age discrimination. Count I is targeted at defendant Boeing. Plaintiff alleges that Boeing, through its agents, participated in Spirit's hiring decisions regarding Boeing's former employees. Count II is targeted at defendant Spirit. Boeing now moves for summary judgment as to Count I of Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint.

II. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate if the moving party demonstrates that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.[1] A fact is "material" when it is essential to the claim, and issues of fact are "genuine" if the proffered evidence permits a reasonable jury to decide the issue in either party's favor.[2] The movant bears the initial burden of proof, and must show the lack of evidence on an essential element of the claim.[3] The nonmovant must then bring forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.[4] These facts must be clearly identified through affidavits, deposition transcripts, or incorporated exhibits-conclusory allegations alone cannot survive a motion for summary judgment.[5] The court views all evidence and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment.[6]

III. Analysis

Plaintiff claims that Boeing is liable because Boeing's managers participated in the decision to not hire Plaintiff for Spirit's Day-One workforce. Plaintiff further alleges that this decision was motivated by her age.

In response, Defendant argues that it cannot be held liable for the actions of its former managers because these managers were not acting within the scope of their Boeing employment. Boeing claims that the decision to not hire Plaintiff was made solely by Spirit and its agents.

Plaintiff Has Failed to Prove the Existence of an Adverse Employment Action

Plaintiff's federal claims arise out of the ADEA which states:

It shall be unlawful for an employer - (1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's age; (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment ...

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