Hall v. G. E. Aviation
MEMORANDUM OPINION granting defendant's motion to dismiss. Signed by Senior Judge Neal B. Biggers on 9/25/15. (jww)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:14-cv-00128-NBB-JMV
Came on to be considered this day the defendant’s motion to dismiss. Upon consideration
of the motions, responses, and applicable authority, and being fully advised in the premises, the
court is ready to rule.
Factual and Procedural Background
The plaintiff, Georgella Hall, brings this action against GE Aviation (“GE”) alleging a
claim of age discrimination. Ms. Hall applied for a job with GE while in the process of
completing her training at the WIN Job Center, a Mississippi employment agency that provides
job placement assistance and skill training. However, Ms. Hall was not chosen for the position at
GE and believes this decision to be directly related to her age at the time of application. Ms.
Hall was fifty-two (52) years old when she applied for the position.
The plaintiff began training at Win Job Center with the intention of completing the
necessary steps to obtain an interview and potential job placement with GE. GE required that
each applicant complete and pass three separate tests before becoming eligible for hiring.
In May of 2011, the plaintiff finished the first of the three tests; later that year, in
October, she completed the second test. After the plaintiff had completed two of the three
necessary tests, GE called her for an interview. The Human Resources representative let the
plaintiff know that the third test was required before she could be offered a job. The plaintiff
claims that it was at this point the representative of GE informed her that if she completed the
third test, a job would be offered to her at GE. The plaintiff states that the representative told her
that after she successfully passed her third and final test, to “bring [the tests] back and I will give
you a job.”
The plaintiff passed the final test four months later on January 20, 2012, and returned her
application and completion certificate to the GE offices. The Human Resources representative
was unable to meet with the plaintiff, but the office accepted her completed application. GE
informed the plaintiff that the company was no longer hiring for the position for which Ms. Hall
applied. GE then instructed the plaintiff to return to WIN Job Center for further instruction. The
plaintiff did return to WIN Job Center, but the center was unable to provide her with any further
Later in 2012, GE began hiring for the position for which Ms. Hall applied. GE failed to
call her in for an interview. Instead, GE began its hiring process by considering candidates from
resumes sent in 2010, in order of their application date. Because the plaintiff did not submit her
application until January 2012, her application was not considered and she was not called for an
On December 7, 2012, the plaintiff filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”) complaint against both Win Job Center and GE. The EEOC found no evidence of
wrongdoing, but issued the plaintiff a Right to Sue letter. The plaintiff subsequently filed a civil
complaint against GE and WIN Job Center for employment discrimination, though she later
dropped the complaint against WIN Job Center. The plaintiff sues for $600,000 in damages
from GE for employment discrimination based on her age.
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Standard of Review
A party is entitled to summary judgment Aif the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law.@ Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). On a motion for summary judgment, the movant has the initial
burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 325 (1986). “Substantive law will identify which facts are material.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is material if it “might affect the outcome
of the suit,” and any facts which would be irrelevant to the potential outcome are immaterial. Id.
If the movant makes such a showing, the burden then shifts to the non-movant to “go beyond the
pleadings and by . . . affidavits, or by the ‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions
on file,’ designate ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.’” Celotex Corp.,
477 U.S. at 324 (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c), (e)).
In reviewing the evidence, this court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
nonmoving party and avoid credibility determinations and weighing of the evidence. Reeves v.
Sanderson Plumbing Prods. Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). In doing so, the court must
disregard all evidence favorable to the moving party that the jury is not required to believe.
Reeves, 530 U.S. at 151. The plaintiff’s “burden is not satisfied with ‘some metaphysical doubt
as to the material facts,’ by ‘conclusory allegations,’ or by only a ‘scintilla’ of evidence.” Little v.
Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1975 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted).
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Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), it is “unlawful for
an employer . . . to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual . . . because of such
individual’s age.” 29 U.S.C. §623(a)(1). To establish an ADEA claim, a plaintiff must prove by
a preponderance of the evidence (either direct or circumstantial), that age was the ‘but-for’ cause
of the challenged employer decision. Moss v. BMC Software 610 F.3d 917, 922 (5th Cir. 2010).
When a plaintiff relies on circumstantial evidence to prove age discrimination, courts apply the
three-part burden-shifting analysis from McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792
(1973). Under the McDonnell Douglas framework, the plaintiff must first establish a prima facie
case by showing that (1) she belongs to a protected class; (2) she applied for and was qualified
for a position that was seeking applicants; (3) was rejected; and (4) following that rejection,
another applicant not of the protected class was hired. Dubia v. School Bd. Of Avoyelles Parish
546 Fed.Appx. 357, 359 (5th Cir. 2013). Citing Haas v. ADVO Sys., Inc., 168 F.3d 732, 733 (5th
If the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer to
articulate a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for its decision. Dubia 546 Fed. Appx. at 360.
If the employer meets that burden of production, the plaintiff, to withstand summary judgment,
must show that there is genuine issue of material fact as to whether “the defendant’s stated
reason for the employment decision was merely a pretext for discrimination.” Id. Pretext may
be shown “either through evidence of disparate treatment or by showing that the employer’s
proffered explanation is false or unworthy of credence.” Jackson v. Cal-Western Packaging
Corp., 602 F.3d 374, 378 (5th Cir. 2010). It is at this third stage that the plaintiff must
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demonstrate that age was the “but-for” cause that she was not hired. Dubia 546 Fed. Appx. at
Defendant GE does not dispute that Hall has met her burden with respect to establishing a
prima facie case; however, the plaintiff has not shown any evidence that GE’s reason for not
calling her back and offering her a position is related to her age.
In accordance with the second step of the McDonnell Douglas framework, GE asserts
that Ms. Hall was not hired because the HR representative mistakenly forgot to call her for an
interview. Because GE has met the burden of producing a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason
for its action, the plaintiff is left with the ultimate burden of proving discrimination. In response
to this burden, plaintiff Hall proposes only that it is “laughable” that GE’s human resources
employees forgot to call her when GE resumed hiring. Plaintiff does not attempt to show GE’s
proffered justification is false and only promotes conjecture against it. Moreover, the plaintiff
does not offer any suggestion that a question of material fact exists within this action. Plaintiff’s
absence of showing any rebuttal evidence, coupled with the lack of dispute of material fact,
leaves this claim only to fail as a matter of law.
GE also has provided evidence that several applicants within the protected age group
were hired during the same hiring year for the same position, including six individuals of age 53
or older— the age of the plaintiff at the time of application. This evidence serves to negate the
inference that age was a factor in the selection process. Because the plaintiff has not
demonstrated pretext and does not proffer evidence that her age was the “but for” causation of
the employment decision, the defendant’s motion for summary judgment must be granted.
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For the forgoing reasons, the court finds that the defendant’s motion for summary
judgment is well-taken and therefore should be granted. A separate order in accord with this
opinion shall issue this day.
This, the 25th day of September, 2015.
/s/ Neal Biggers
NEAL B. BIGGERS, JR.
SENIOR U. S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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