Soto v. Pike County et al
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry) re 19 MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Shenequa Shantel Soto. Signed by Honorable A. Richard Caputo on 3/8/18. (dw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
SHENEQUA SHANTEL SOTO,
PIKE COUNTY, et al.,
Presently before me is the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 19) filed
by Plaintiff Shenequa Shantel Soto (“Soto”). Soto was formerly employed by
Defendant Pike County (the “County”) in its Children and Youth Services agency.
After sustaining an injury at work, Soto took medical leave and applied for workers’
compensation benefits. Soto returned to work two months later, but her employment
was terminated shortly thereafter. Soto challenged her discharge by filing an appeal
with the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission. One ground raised by Soto
was that her termination was motivated by discrimination based on her filing for
workers’ compensation benefits. The State Civil Service Commission agreed with
Soto, finding, inter alia, that the County did not advance a legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason for her discharge. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
affirmed on appeal. Soto then commenced litigation in this Court against the County,
its Commissioners, and its Director of Children and Youth Services asserting claims
related to race and medical leave discrimination. Now, invoking the doctrine of
collateral estoppel, Soto seeks summary judgment in her favor, arguing that the state
agency’s decision as reviewed by the Commonwealth Court that the County lacked a
legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason to terminate her is entitled to preclusive effect.
The motion for partial summary judgment will be denied because the issue decided in
the prior proceeding is not identical to the issue presented here.
Soto was employed as a Homemaker by the County in its Children and Youth
Services agency (“Children & Youth”) from December 1, 2008 until she was
terminated on November 12, 2014. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 1; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 1). Defendant
Shannon Wisniewski (“Wisniewski”) served as the Director of Children & Youth at
the time Soto was terminated. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 4; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 4). Soto is AfricanAmerican. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 2; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 2).
On August 13, 2014, Soto suffered a head injury while at work on a visit to the
Pike County Correctional Facility with two Children & Youth child clients. (See Pl.’s
SMF, ¶ 5; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 5). Soto did not immediately report this incident to her
supervisor or Wisniewski because she did not feel any ill effects at first. (See Pl.’s
SMF, ¶ 6; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 6). After she left the prison, though, Soto developed a
headache, so she called a co-worker, Jennifer D’Argenio (“D’Argenio”), to meet her
to transport the two child clients. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 7; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 7). Soto
ultimately pulled her car over and contacted D’Argenio a second time, who in turn
notified Wisniewski. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶¶ 8-9; Defs.’ SMF, ¶¶ 8-9). 911 was called and
Soto was transported to an area hospital where she was diagnosed with a concussion.
(See Pl.’s SMF, ¶¶ 9-10; Defs.’ SMF, ¶¶ 9-10). The same day, Soto completed an
incident report and provided that report to Wisniewski. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶¶ 14-15;
Defs.’ SMF, ¶¶ 14-15).
Soto was granted an approved leave of absence under the FMLA from August
13, 2014 to October 13, 2014. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 16; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 16). Soto also
filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits for these injuries. (See id.). While
she was on FMLA leave, Soto received a letter indicating that she was given three (3)
employee warning reports: two (2) of the reports related to events that occurred prior
The facts relevant to the instant motion are largely undisputed and are taken from
the parties’ statements of material facts.
to Soto taking FMLA leave, while the other report related to Soto’s use of County
property while on leave. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶¶ 17-20; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 17-20).
Soto returned to work on light duty from her FMLA leave on October 14, 2014.
(See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 21; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 21). Two days later, Soto received two (2)
additional warning reports for conduct that occurred after returning from FMLA leave.
(See Pl.’s SMF, ¶¶ 22-24; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 22-24).
On November 12, 2014, a hearing was held before the Pike County
Commissioners, i.e., Defendants Matthew Osterberg (“Osterberg”), Richard Caridi
(“Caridi”), and Karl Wagner (“Wagner”), to address Soto’s employment status with
the County. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 25; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 25). Wisniewski recommended at
the hearing that the Commissioners fire Soto. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 26; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 26).
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Commissioners unanimously agreed to terminate
Soto’s employment due to their concern about the safety of the children, a reference
to Soto’s decision to transport her child clients after she was injured at the prison.
(See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 27; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 27). Also that day the County notified Soto by
letter that her employment with Children & Youth was terminated effective
immediately. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 28; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 28).
During her approximately six (6) years of employment with the County, Soto
received eight (8) written warnings, a verbal warning, and a one (1) day suspension.
(See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 29; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 29). D’Argenio, who is not African-American,
received sixteen (16) disciplinary notices during her eight (8) years of employment
with Children & Youth.
(See Pl.’s SMF, ¶¶ 30-31; Defs.’ SMF, ¶¶ 30-31).
D’Argenio, like Soto, had a hearing before the Commissioners in November 2014 to
discuss her employment status, but unlike Soto, D’Argenio was not terminated and
instead received a ninety (90) day probationary period. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶¶ 32-34;
Defs.’ SMF, ¶¶ 32-34).
After she was terminated, Soto filed an appeal with the State Civil Service
Commission (“SCSC”) alleging, inter alia, that she was discriminated against for
filing her workers’ compensation claim. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 35; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 35).
Thus, one issue before the SCSC was whether the County’s decision to terminate Soto
was “motivated by discrimination related to her claim for workers’ compensation.”
(Pl.’s SMF, Ex. “A”, 23).2
In its Adjudication, the SCSC found that Soto presented sufficient evidence to
satisfy her initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of discrimination. (See id.
at 33). The SCSC noted that Soto’s claim for workers’ compensation was followed
closely by the imposition of five (5) warnings, that this number of warnings in such
a short period was troubling given the sparse number of warnings before the claim was
filed, and that D’Argenio, despite receiving many more warning reports, received
much less discipline. (See id.).
Because Soto met her burden of showing a prima facie case of discrimination,
the SCSC next considered whether the County met its burden of producing a
“legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for removal . . . .” (Id.). After reviewing the
record, the SCSC found that the County did not offer legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reasons for Soto’s termination because: (1) it did not substantiate that Soto transported
her child clients unsafely; and (2) the reasons offered for removing Soto but not
D’Argenio failed to establish legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for removal. (See
id. at 35). Thus, since Soto made out a prima facie case of discrimination which the
County failed to rebut, the SCSC concluded that Soto established her claim of
discrimination in violation of the Pennsylvania Civil Service Act. (See id. at 36).
Among other relief, the SCSC ordered that Soto “be reimbursed such wages and
emoluments as would have been received between her removal, effective November
12, 2014, and her reinstatement, less wages earned and benefits received, if any, . . .”
There was no claim for race discrimination advanced by Soto before the SCSC.
(See Soto Dep., 42:15-18 (stipulation by Plaintiff’s counsel)).
The County appealed the decision of the SCSC to the Pennsylvania
Commonwealth Court. (See Pl.’s SMF, ¶ 51; Defs.’ SMF, ¶ 51). The Commonwealth
Court affirmed the decision of the SCSC, holding that Soto presented a prima facie
case of discrimination that “she was terminated due to filing a workers’ compensation
claim” and that the County “failed to set forth a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason
for terminating Soto.” (See Pl.’s SMF, Ex. “Q”, 13-14).
Soto then commenced this action on November 9, 2016.
(See Doc. 1,
generally). Pursuant to a stipulation of the parties, (see Doc. 8, generally),4 the
following claims remain in this action: (1) race discrimination in violation of Title VII
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., against the
County only (Count I); (2) race discrimination in violation of the Pennsylvania Human
Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 P.S. § 951 et seq., against all Defendants (Count II); (3)
race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, through 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
against all Defendants (Count III); violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution against all Defendants
(Count IV); conspiracy to violate civil rights in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1985 against
all Defendants (Count V); and discrimination in violation of the Family and Medical
Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., against all Defendants (Count VI).
Soto filed a motion for partial summary judgment against all Defendants on her
claims in Counts I-IV and Count VI of the Complaint on November 30, 2017. (See
Doc. 19, generally). In her supporting brief, Soto argues that the SCSC’s finding that
After the SCSC issued its decision, the County provided Soto with back pay and
offered to reinstate her to her prior position. (See Soto Dep., 12:8-16:2). At that
time, based on her fear of retaliation, Soto deferred her reinstatement. (See id. at
The stipulation also provided for the dismissal of all claims against Children &
Youth. (See Doc. 8, ¶ 1). The remaining Defendants are the County, Caridi,
Osterberg, Wagner, and Wisniewski. (See id., generally).
the County did not have a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating her is
entitled to preclusive effect in this litigation. (See Doc. 21, generally). Defendants
submitted their opposition to Soto’s motion on December 21, 2017. (See Docs. 23-24,
generally). Soto filed a reply brief in further support of her motion on January 4,
2018. (See Doc. 25, generally). Soto’s motion for partial summary judgment is now
fully briefed and ripe for disposition.
Summary judgment shall be granted “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). “A court may grant a motion for summary
judgment if, after it considers all probative materials of record, with inferences drawn
in favor of the non-moving party, the court is satisfied that there are no genuine issues
of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Chavarriaga v. N.J. Dep’t of Corrs., 806 F.3d 210, 218 (3d Cir. 2015) (citing Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2556, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986);
Brooks v. Kyler, 204 F.3d 102, 105 n.5 (3d Cir. 2000)). “A fact is ‘material’ under
Rule 56 if its existence or nonexistence might impact the outcome of the suit under the
applicable substantive law. A dispute over a material fact is ‘genuine’ if ‘a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.’” Santini v. Fuentes, 795 F.3d
410, 416 (3d Cir. 2015) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248,
106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986)). “In determining whether the dispute
is genuine, the court’s function is not to weigh the evidence or to determine the truth
of the matter . . . .” American Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 587, 581
(3d Cir. 2009) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49, 106 S. Ct. 2505).
The moving party bears the initial burden to identify “specific portions of the
record that establish the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Santini, 795 F.3d
at 416 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553). If this burden is
satisfied by the movant, the burden then “shifts to the nonmoving party to go beyond
the pleadings and ‘come forward with specific facts showing that there is a genuine
issue for trial.’” Id. (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 587, 106 S. Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986)). The nonmovant’s
burden is not satisfied by “simply show[ing] that there is some metaphysical doubt as
to the material facts.” Chavarriaga, 806 F.3d at 218.
Soto asserts that she is entitled to summary judgment on her race and FMLA
discrimination claims “because the finding of the SCSC and Commonwealth Court
that the County did not have a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating
Soto’s employment is entitled to preclusive effect under the doctrine of collateral
estoppel and is dispositive of Soto’s claims[.]” (Doc. 21, 3). The parties do not
dispute that Pennsylvania law governs the extent to which the SCSC and
Commonwealth Court decisions are entitled to preclusive effect.
See Dici v.
Pennsylvania, 91 F.3d 542, 548 (3d Cir. 1996) (“a federal court in a Title VII action
should grant preclusive effect to a state court decision upholding a state administrative
agency determination when the state court’s decision would be barred by issue
preclusion in subsequent actions in that state’s own courts.”).
In Pennsylvania, collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, “‘forecloses
re-litigation in a later action of an issue of fact or law which was actually litigated and
which was necessary to the original judgment.’” Id. (alteration omitted) (quoting
Hebden v. Workmen's Compensation Appeal Bd. (Bethenergy Mines, Inc.), 534 Pa.
327, 632 A.2d 1302, 1304 (1993)). For collateral estoppel to apply, the party asserting
it must show:
(1) the issue decided in the prior adjudication was identical
with the one presented in the later action, (2) there was a
final judgment on the merits, (3) the party against whom the
plea is asserted was a party or in privity with a party to the
prior adjudication, and (4) the party against whom it is
asserted has had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the
issue in question in a prior action.
Id. (quoting Safeguard Mut. Ins. Co. v. Williams, 463 Pa. 567, 345 A.2d 664, 668 (Pa.
Pa. 1975) (citations omitted); Shaffer v. Smith, 543 Pa. 526, 673 A.2d 872, 874 (Pa.
Soto contends that the state agency’s decision as affirmed by the Pennsylvania
Commonwealth Court that the County did not have a legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reason to terminate her is entitled to preclusive effect. (See Doc. 21, 6-15). As the
parties’ submissions focus primarily on whether the issue decided in the prior
adjudication is identical to that presented here, I do as well.6
This prong is
“‘established by showing that the same general legal rules govern both cases and that
the facts of both cases are indistinguishable as measured by those rules.’” Suppan v.
Dadonna, 203 F.3d 228 (3d Cir. 2000) (quoting 18 Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R.
Miller, Edward H. Cooper, Federal Practice & Procedure § 4425, at 253 (1981)). A
“fundamental question [with regard to issue preclusion] is whether the issue has been
actually decided by a court in a prior action.” R & J Holding Co. v. Redevelopment
Auth. of Cnty. of Montgomery, 670 F.3d 420, 429 (3d Cir. 2011) (citing McNeil v.
Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., 545 Pa. 209, 680 A.2d 1145, 1147-48 (Pa. 1996)).
Soto insists that the first criterion is met because: (1) the workers’ compensation
discrimination claim in the SCSC proceeding and the race and FMLA discrimination
“Some Pennsylvania courts state that there are actually five - instead of four elements to the issue preclusion doctrine. The fifth element requires that the
determination of an issue in the prior case must have been ‘essential’ to the
previous judgment.” Witkowski v. Welch, 173 F.3d 192, 203 n.15 (3d Cir. 1999)
(citing Mellon Bank v. Rafsky, 535 A.2d 1090, 1093 (Pa. Super. 1987)). As
explained by the Third Circuit, “[w]hether there are four or five formal elements
to the doctrine is not of consequence . . . [because] the doctrine is essentially the
same under either analysis.” Id.
Individual Defendants, i.e., Caridi, Osterberg, Wagner, and Wisniewski, also
dispute that collateral estoppel applies to the claims against them because they
were not parties to the SCSC proceeding. (See Doc. 24, 14). Because the first
prong of the collateral estoppel inquiry is not satisfied for reasons explained in the
text, this argument need not be addressed.
claims presented here require application of the McDonnell Douglas7 burden-shifting
framework; (2) she can easily establish a prima facie case of race and FMLA
discrimination in this action; and (3) “the issue of whether the County had a legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason to terminate [her] is identical in both the SCSC and federal
court proceedings, . . .” (Id. at 6-12).
Defendants dispute that the issue decided in the prior adjudication is identical
to the one presented here. (See Doc. 24, 11-14). Defendants emphasize that whereas
the SCSC’s decision was based on a finding that the County’s decision to terminate
Soto was motivated by discrimination for her filing for workers’ compensation
benefits, the matter sub judice implicates race and FMLA discrimination. (See id.).
This, explains Defendants, shows that Soto only established a prima facie case of
workers’ compensation discrimination and that the issues regarding race and FMLA
discrimination were not litigated in the SCSC proceeding, thus preventing application
of collateral estoppel here. (See id.).
In reply, Soto contends that it is immaterial that the claims in the SCSC
proceedings involved workers’ compensation discrimination while these proceedings
implicate race and FMLA discrimination. (See Doc. 25, 4-6). This is so, Soto presses,
because “the issue decided by the SCSC and affirmed by the Commonwealth Court that Defendant County did not have a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for [her]
termination - is identical to the issue presented in this case with respect to [her] claims
for race and FMLA discrimination . . . .” (Id. at 5) (emphasis in original). Soto
See McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S. Ct. 1817, 36 L. Ed.
2d 668 (1973). Under this framework, “a plaintiff first must establish the
requisite elements of his claim (called the prima facie elements); if so, the ‘burden
then must shift to the employer to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory
reason’ for the adverse employment action, and then the plaintiff bears the burden
of establishing that the employer's stated reason for the adverse action was an
excuse, or pretext, for why the action was actually taken.” Castleberry v. STI
Grp., 863 F.3d 259, 263 (3d Cir. 2017) (quoting McDonnell Douglas, 411 U.S. at
802-04, 93 S. Ct. 1817).
reiterates that Defendants’ burden under McDonnell Douglas to show a legitimate,
nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action taken against her is the
same here as it was before the SCSC, and, she says, because Defendants failed to meet
that burden before, they are barred from re-litigating that issue again here. (See id.).
Distilled to its essence, Soto’s argument is that the issue before the SCSC was whether
the County had any legitimate reason for her termination, not merely a reason
unrelated to her claim for workers’ compensation. Soto’s position is unconvincing.
Before the SCSC, Soto contended that she was discriminated against by the
County for a “non-merit factor,” i.e., her workers’ compensation claim, in violation
of § 905a8 of the Pennsylvania Civil Service Act, 71 P.S. § 741.1 et seq. The SCSC’s
Adjudication makes clear that the prima facie case of discrimination established by
Soto in that proceeding was limited to the filing of her claim for workers’
compensation. (See Pl.’s SMF, Ex. “A”, 31 (evidence of discrimination included that
Soto was “employed by the appointing authority for six years and, before she filed her
claim for workers’ compensation, she had received only three employee-warning
reports”; id. at 32 (she was treated different that D’Argenio “who did not file a claim
for workers’ compensation . . . .”; id. at 33 (the “claim for workers’ compensation was
followed by the [County’s] decision to impose five warnings, as well as the close
temporal proximity between these events, indicates that the [County] may have
retaliated against her.”)).
As a result, to rebut Soto’s prima facie case of
discrimination before the SCSC under the McDonnell Douglas framework, the County
had to proffer a legitimate reason for her discharge, which, in that context, meant a
reason that was not based on her claim for workers’ compensation.
See 71 P.S. § 741.905a (“No officer or employe of the Commonwealth shall
discriminate against any person in recruitment, examination, appointment,
training, promotion, retention or any other personnel action with respect to the
classified service because of political or religious opinions or affiliations because
of labor union affiliations or because of race, national origin or other non-merit
While the claims in this case are analyzed under the McDonnell Douglas
burden-shifting framework - just as the claim was before the SCSC - the issue at the
second step of the McDonnell Douglas inquiry here is not identical. “At the second
stage of the McDonnell Douglas framework, an employer's reason for discharging an
employee ‘must be legitimate’ or ‘nondiscriminatory, which means only that it is not
a motive that is illegal under Title VII.’” Hubbard v. Tyco Integrated Cable Sys., Inc.,
985 F. Supp. 2d 207, 225 (D.N.H. 2013) (quoting 1 Rodney A. Smolla, Federal Civil
Rights Acts § 9:40, at 1260 (3d ed. 2013)).
“That is, ‘courts limit their inquiry
regarding an employer's proffered reason to whether that reason is consistent with the
statute at issue and do not automatically determine that a decision based on a trait
protected by one statute is an illegitimate decision under a statute that protects other
traits.’” Id. at 225-26 (alterations omitted) (quoting 1 Barbara T. Lindemann & Paul
Grossman, Employment Discrimination Law 39 (4th ed. 2007)). The Supreme Court
has explained in a case under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”),
29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq.:
We do not mean to suggest that an employer lawfully could
fire an employee in order to prevent his pension benefits
from vesting. Such conduct is actionable under § 510 of
ERISA, as the Court of Appeals rightly found in affirming
judgment for respondent under that statute.
Ingersoll-Rand Co. v. McClendon, 498 U.S. 133, 142-143,
111 S. Ct. 478, 484-485, 112 L. Ed. 2d 474 (1990). But it
would not, without more, violate the ADEA. That law
requires the employer to ignore an employee's age (absent a
statutory exemption or defense); it does not specify further
characteristics that an employer must also ignore. Although
some language in our prior decisions might be read to mean
that an employer violates the ADEA whenever its reason for
firing an employee is improper in any respect, see
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93
S. Ct. 1817, 1824, 36 L. Ed.2d 668 (1973) (creating proof
framework applicable to ADEA) (employer must have
“legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason” for action against
employee), this reading is obviously incorrect. For example,
it cannot be true that an employer who fires an older black
worker because the worker is black thereby violates the
ADEA. The employee's race is an improper reason, but it is
improper under Title VII, not the ADEA.
Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggins, 507 U.S. 604, 612-13, 113 S. Ct. 1701, 123 L. Ed. 2d 338
(1993) (emphasis added); see also 1 Lex K. Larson, Employment Discrimination §
12.09, at 12-81 to 12-82 (2d ed. 2012) (“[a]lthough discharge of an employee due
to medical reasons may run afoul of other statutes, such employer action is not a Title
VII violation if done with an even hand”); accord Dionne v. Shalala, 209 F.3d 705,
711 n.12 (8th Cir. 2000) (Lay, J., dissenting) (the Supreme Court in Hazen Paper “has
noted that articulation of an illegal but true reason, unrelated to the claim at issue, may
satisfy an employer’s burden”). Hazen Paper thus illustrates that a reason for adverse
action against an employee found illegitimate or discriminatory under one statute does
not mean that same reason is illegitimate under a different statute protecting other
That being the case, the issue in the prior proceedings was only whether the
County’s proffered reason for discharging Soto was consistent with the prohibition
against discrimination based on her filing for workers’ compensation , i.e., the “nonmerit” factor asserted there. Although the claims here, like the one before the SCSC,
are governed by the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework, the issue at the
second step is different and limited to whether the County’s proffered explanation for
Soto’s discharge is for a reason other than her race or claim for FMLA benefits.
Hazen Paper clarified this point. See Hazen Paper, 507 U.S. at 612, 113 S. Ct. 1701
(“Although some language in our prior decisions might be read to mean that an
employer violates the ADEA whenever its reason for firing an employee is improper
in any respect, . . . this reading is obviously incorrect. For example, it cannot be true
that an employer who fires an older black worker because the worker is black thereby
violates the ADEA. The employee's race is an improper reason, but it is improper
under Title VII, not the ADEA.”). Given this, the issue decided in the prior
adjudication is not identical to the one presented in the matter sub judice. Soto,
therefore, is unable to satisfy her burden of proving the applicability of collateral
estoppel to the case at hand.
For the above stated reasons, Soto’s motion for partial summary judgment will
An appropriate order follows.
March 8, 2018
/s/ A. Richard Caputo
A. Richard Caputo
United States District Judge
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