United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
J. MCCONNELL, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Caruso brings claims of age discrimination against his former
employer, the Central Falls Detention Facility, d/b/a Wyatt
Detention Facility ("Wyatt"). He had worked at
Wyatt for seven months as the Director of Training and
Development. Wyatt let him go after his supervisor announced
a reorganization that eliminated his position and divided his
duties between two existing employees. Because Mr. Caruso has
not established a prima facie case of age discrimination, the
Court GRANTS summary judgment to the Defendant. ECF No. 16.
has had many financial challenges. As a result, the Wyatt
Board instructed Warden Daniel W. Martin to find costs
savings. Warden Martin determined that he could reorganize
the Training Department at Wyatt and eliminate the
Director's $60, 000 per year job and transfer the
Director's responsibilities to two other existing Wyatt
employees. Mr. Caruso was 55 years old. Wyatt divided Mr.
Caruso's responsibilities between the Chief of Support
Services and a newly created position of Training
Coordinator. An existing employee, a member of the Training
Academy, assumed the Training Coordinator's position. The
two existing employees who assumed his responsibilities were
younger than Mr. Caruso.
Caruso sued Wyatt alleging age discrimination under federal
and state laws. After all discovery concluded, the Defendant
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 16), Mr. Caruso
objected (ECF No. 23), and Wyatt replied (ECF No. 31). When
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must look
to the record and view all the facts and inferences therefrom
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Continental Cas. Co. v. Canadian Universal Ins. Co.,
924 F.2d 370, 373 (1st Cir. 1991). Once this is done, Rule
56(c) requires that summary judgment be granted if there is
no issue as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A material fact is
one affecting the lawsuit's outcome. URI Cogeneration
Partners, L.P. v. Bd. of Governors for Higher Educ, 915
F.Supp. 1267, 1279 (D.R.I. 1996).
there is no direct evidence of discrimination, the Court
follows the familiar analysis enunciated in McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-05
(1973). The Plaintiff must establish a prima facie
case of age discrimination, the Defendant must then set forth
a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse
employment action, finally, the Plaintiff must then show that
the stated reason was in fact a pretext for a prohibitive
prove a prima facie case of age discrimination, Mr. Caruso
must show "that (i) [he] was over the age of forty, (ii)
his work was sufficient to meet his employer's legitimate
expectations, (iii) his employer took adverse action against
him, and (iv) the employer sought a replacement with roughly
equivalent job qualifications, thus revealing a continued
need for such services." Mesnick v. Gen. Elec.
Co., 950 F.2d 816, 823 (1st Cir. 1991).
asserts that Mr. Caruso has failed to prove a prima facie
case of age discrimination because he cannot show that Wyatt
sought a "replacement" for his position, the fourth
factor above. Wyatt argues that redistribution of duties to
existing employees is not a replacement.
Caruso asserts that he meets all four factors for proving a
prima facie claim of age discrimination, including the
fourth. He argues that he was "replaced by a person with
roughly equivalent job qualifications, demonstrating a
continuing need for his position." ECF No. 23 at 8. When
Mr. Caruso's subordinate took over the newly created
position of Training Coordinator, she "performed the
same duties as Mr. Caruso's former position of Director
of Training." Id.
facts are undisputed that Wyatt did not replace Mr. Caruso,
but rather redistributed his job responsibilities to existing
employees to save the costs of his position because of
Wyatt's severe financial condition. This redistribution
of responsibilities does not equate to replacement under the
law of age discrimination. "A discharged employee
'is not replaced when another employee is assigned to
perform the plaintiffs duties in addition to other duties, or
when the work is redistributed among other existing employees
already performing related work."' Hidalgo v.
Overseas Condado Ins. Agencies, Inc., 120 F.3d 328, 334
n.6 (1st Cir. 1997) (quoting LeBlanc v. Great Am. Ins.
Co., 6 F.3d 836, 846 (1st Cir. 1993)). In reorganizing
the training department, Wyatt went from three people to two
people, with the two remaining employees assuming the added
responsibilities previously held by Mr. Caruso.
Mr. Caruso has not proven that Wyatt "sought a
replacement" for him after letting him go, he has failed
to prove a prima facie case of age discrimination. The Court
thus GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF