Burns White attorneys Mary-Jo Rebelo and Courtney C. Brennan successfully obtained a defense verdict on behalf of a consumer finance company in the Court of Common Pleas of Venango County, Pennsylvania.
Plaintiff, a former employee for the consumer finance company, claimed that she was terminated from her position as a branch manager because of her age in violation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). She specifically alleged that on two separate occasions her former supervisor made two identical comments in reference to her age and ability to do the job. She further contended that her termination was part of a company policy favoring youth over experience.
Attorneys Rebelo and Brennan argued that the plaintiff was terminated due to her failure spanning her entire tenure as branch manager to meet expected goals set by management. The testimony and well-developed record demonstrated the plaintiff’s responsibility for a branch that was continuously losing accounts and business under her leadership, as well as the company’s continued efforts to communicate expected goals and counsel plaintiff on her performance.
The court concluded that plaintiff’s allegations about age comments, without more context or evidentiary support, were insufficient to establish age discrimination as a determinative factor in her discharge from employment in the face of her longstanding failure to perform. Importantly, the court found no evidence of any “pattern” of age discrimination or policy favoring younger individuals to support her claims. The court found that the record demonstrating plaintiff’s failure to perform her job satisfactorily to company expectations over several years provided a solid basis for her termination. The court concluded that plaintiff’s “testimony leads nowhere that would meet her burden of proof.” In addition, the court found that plaintiff’s expert’s testimony suffered the same shortcomings as plaintiff’s testimony.
Accordingly, at the conclusion of the trial and based on the evidentiary record, Senior Judge Hiram A. Carpenter rendered a verdict in favor of the defendant, finding no evidence of unlawful age discrimination under the PHRA.