United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND
GREN SCHOLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Order addresses Defendant STMicroelectronics, Inc.'s
("STM") motion for summary judgment , For the
following reasons, the Court denies STM's motion for
THE AGE DISCRIMINATION ALLEGATIONS
Owen began working for STM in 2007. STM hired him on a
temporary basis to perform general in-house counsel duties
while the employee who normally fulfilled those duties,
Jackie Nguyen, was on assignment in China. Owen's duties
included drafting and negotiating commercial contracts,
licensing agreements, technology agreements, and real estate
leases. He also reviewed non-disclosure agreements
("NDAs"). Owen's position ended in 2008 when
Nguyen returned from China.
April 2013, Bruce Quill, an employee in STM's human
resources department, contacted Owen about returning to the
company. STM was seeking a temporary employee to review NDAs,
as the paralegal normally responsible for that job had left
STM. Owen accepted the position. His main duties were
reviewing NDAs and maintaining a spreadsheet tracking the
NDAs, Owen primarily worked with Terry Blanchard during this
time. Owen received no negative feedback on his performance.
same year, Owen learned that a full-time, permanent corporate
counsel position (the "Senior Position") had opened
up because Jackie Nguyen left STM. He also learned that STM
planned to hire an attorney to replace the paralegal
responsible for reviewing NDAs (the "Junior
Position"). Owen expressed interest in the Senior
Position to Quill, STM's General Counsel, and Blanchard.
STM's General Counsel indicated that Blanchard would be
the ultimate decision maker. Blanchard told Owen that, while
he was qualified for the position, STM did not want
"someone with so much experience that they would be
inflexible." PL's App. 28.
drafted the posted job advertisement for the Senior Position,
which stated that "[t]he right candidate will have
strong academic and employment credentials[, ]" that STM
was seeking a licensed attorney "with about 10 years of
experience, " and that big firm and in-house counsel
experience were "preferred." Def.'s App. 10.
Ultimately, STM did not choose Owen for the Senior Position.
STM instead selected Sean Barrett. Barrett was 36 years old
at the time, had an undergraduate degree from McGill
University and a law degree from Georgetown University, had
nine years of legal experience at large law firms and as
in-house counsel, and had worked on a variety of complex
corporate transactional matters. When Owen sought and was
rejected for the position, he was 64 years old.
hired Adam Hoffman for the Junior Position. Soon thereafter
Owen's position at STM was eliminated because the legal
department was fully staffed. On or about June 4, 2014, Owen
filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission -
Civil Rights Division.
THE COURT DENIES SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Summary Judgment Standard
"shall grant summary judgment 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); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). In making this determination,
courts must view all evidence and draw all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing
the motion. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S.
654, 655 (1962). The moving party bears the initial burden of
informing the court of the basis for its belief that there is
no genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
party bears the burden of proof on an issue, he "must
establish beyond peradventure all of the essential elements
of the claim or defense to warrant judgment in his
favor." Fontenot v. Upjohn Co., 780 F.2d 1190,
1194 (5th Cir. 1986). When the nonmovant bears the burden of
proof, the movant may demonstrate entitlement to summary
judgment either by (1) submitting evidence that negates the
existence of an essential element of the nonmovant's
claim or affirmative defense, or (2) arguing that there is no
evidence to support an essential element of the
nonmovant's claim or affirmative defense.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-25. Once the movant has
made this showing, the burden shifts to the nonmovant to
establish that there is a genuine issue of material fact so
that a reasonable jury might return a verdict in its favor.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
A15 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Moreover,
"[c]onclusory allegations, speculation, and
unsubstantiated assertions" will not suffice to satisfy
the nonmovant's burden. Douglass v. UnitedServs.
Auto. Ass'n, 79 F.3d 1415, 1429 (5th Cir. 1996) (en
banc). Factual controversies are resolved in favor of the
nonmoving party '"only when an actual controversy
exists, that is, when both parties have submitted evidence of
contradictory facts.'" Olabisiomotosho v. City
of Hous., 185 F.3d 521, 525 (5th Cir. 1999) (quoting
McCallum Highlands, Ltd. v. Washington Capital Dus,
Inc., 66 F.3d 89, 92 (5th Cir. 1995)).
the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"),
it is unlawful "to fail or refuse to hire .. . any
individual. . . because of such individual's age."
29 U.S.C. § 623(a)(1). Plaintiffs seeking to prove age
discrimination can rely on either direct or circumstantial
evidence. See, e.g., Machinchick v. PB Power, Inc.,398 F.3d 345, 350 (5th Cir. 2005). Because Owen is relying on
circumstantial evidence, the Court evaluates his claim under
the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework.
See Goudeau v. Natl Oilwell Varco, L.P., 793 F.3d
470, 474 (5th Cir. 2015); see also Conboyv. Edward D.
Jones & Co., L.P.,140 Fed.Appx. 510, 2005 WL
1515479, at *3 (noting that the Fifth Circuit has
"plainly recognized that [the McDonnell Douglas
framework] has equal applicability in the context of an ADEA
action."). Under this framework, Owen must first
establish a prima facie case of age discrimination.
Goudeau, 793 F.3d at 474. To do so, he must show
that: "(1) he was not hired for the position that he
sought; (2) he met the requisite qualifications for the
position; (3) he was over the age of forty at the time that
he was not hired; and (4) an individual who was not a member
of the protected class, or ...