United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.
an employment dispute arising out of an alleged unlawful
termination on the basis of age. Paula Caputy was one of five
Sales and Service Representatives (“SSRs”) at
Quad/Graphics, Inc. In the context of a reduction-in-force,
she was selected for termination. Caputy, at age 64, was the
oldest of the SSRs. The other SSRs ranged in age from 29 to
53. Unknown to her, the company's most recent SSR
performance evaluations had also ranked her last out of the
five SSRs. She had received an average rating of 3.2 out of
5, while the next lowest SSR received an average rating of
4.0. However, at the time of her termination, she was told
that her termination was only because of the economy, and had
nothing to do with her performance, which had been
then brought this action, alleging age discrimination in
violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 151B. Quad/Graphics has
moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below,
that motion will be granted.
facts are set forth in the light most favorable to plaintiff,
the non-moving party.
Inc. provides multichannel communications solutions,
including print and other platforms, for a variety of
markets. (Def. SMF ¶ 1). Sales Representatives sell the
company's services to new and existing customers. (Def.
SMF ¶ 2). Sales and Service Representatives
(“SSRs”) support the Sales Representatives by
determining project pricing, preparing customer proposals,
overseeing projects, and ensuring customer satisfaction.
(Def. SMF. ¶ 3).
Caputy was hired as an SSR at Quad/Graphics in September
2006. (Def. SMF ¶ 4). During the relevant time period,
Quad/Graphics employed five SSRs and four Sales
Representatives. (Def. SMF ¶ 7). The SSRs and sales
representatives were directly supervised by Thomas
O'Brien, the Sales Director. (Def. SMF ¶ 8).
O'Brien reported directly to John Logan, the Regional
Vice President of Sales for the East Coast, who in turn
reported directly to James Capstick, the Vice President of
Marketing Solutions. (Def. SMF ¶ 9).
Sales Director, O'Brien was responsible for conducting
performance evaluations of the Sales Representatives and
SSRs. (O'Brien Aff. ¶ 10). In addition to his own
evaluations, O'Brien had the Sales Representatives
evaluate the SSRs. (O'Brien Dep. at 45, 55). In December
2011, he asked the Sales Representatives to complete
performance evaluations of the SSRs, raking each SSR on a
five-point scale in sixteen different performance areas.
(O'Brien Dep. at 45; O'Brien Aff. ¶ 11).
O'Brien and the Sales Representatives all completed the
evaluations, and he then compiled the results to create
average ratings for each SSR. (O'Brien Aff. ¶ 11;
O'Brien Dep. at 55). Caputy was scored as the lowest
performing SSR out of five. (O'Brien Aff. ¶ 11). She
received an average rating of 3.2; the next lowest SSR
received an average rating of 4.0, and the highest rated SSR
received an average rating of 4.6. (O'Brien Aff. ¶
13; Def.'s Ex. C) Caputy was the oldest SSR, at age 64;
the other SSRs were 53, 52, 46, and 29 years old. (Medeiros
Aff. ¶ 6). Of the three highest-rated SSRs, two were in
their fifties. (Def's Ex. C; Medeiros Aff. ¶ 6).
January 2012, Quad/Graphics determined that it needed to
reduce its staff. (O'Brien Dep. at 39; Capstick Dep. at
10-11). O'Brien was asked by his superiors, Logan and
Capstick, to identify individuals from his office to consider
including in the reduction-in-force. (Capstick Dep. at
11-12). O'Brien selected Caputy. (O'Brien Dep. at 40;
Capstick Dep. at 12). He contends that he was unaware of her
age at the time of her termination. (O'Brien Dep. at 20).
He also contends that his decision was based on the December
2011 performance evaluations, in which she was rated lowest
out of five, as well as on seniority. (O'Brien Dep. at
47-49). Caputy, who was hired in 2006, had worked at
Quad/Graphics for approximately five years. (Medeiros Aff.
¶ 6). Two other SSRs had begun working for Quad/Graphics
in 2010; however, they had joined the company when it
acquired their previous employers. (Id.). They were
given credit for their years spent at their previous
employers, making their effective start dates at
Quad/Graphics 2005 and 1980. (Id.).
required O'Brien to complete SSR Evaluation and
Measurements (“SEAM”) questionnaires for each
employee identified for possible termination in the
reduction-in-force in order to “double check”
their selection. (Capstick Dep. at 20-21, 27). When he sent
Caputy's SEAM questionnaire to Capstick and Logan on
January 16, 2012, O'Brien attempted to prevent her
termination. (O'Brien Dep. Ex. 3). He wrote:
I would not identify Paula [Caputy] as someone who is
underperforming on her overall job. However, relative to her
SSR peers[, ] she ranks lower. . . . As we all make this
difficult decision, I respectfully ask that we re-consider
ending her employment based on the ramifications of how it
will affect Boston Sales & Quad's ability to grow.
(Id.). Later than same day, Logan sent an e-mail to
Capstick stating that he agreed with O'Brien's
O'Brien's request, Quad/Graphics moved forward with
Caputy's termination. (O'Brien Dep. at 28-29). On
January 26, 2012, O'Brien, along with Shelly Medeiros,
the Human Resources Manager, met with Caputy to inform her
that she was being laid off. (O'Brien Dep. at 29).
Medeiros did not participate in the decision to terminate