United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. Magnuson United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. For the following reasons, the Motion is
Joe Doyle and Les Weber are both employed at Defendant
O'Reilly Auto Enterprises, LLC, although they work on
opposite sides of the company. Doyle is a District Manager in
operations, which is responsible for company-owned stores.
(Am. Compl. (Docket No. 1-2) ¶ 15.) Weber was a Regional
Field Sales Manager, responsible for direct sales to
corporate customers. (Id. ¶ 43.) Plaintiffs
filed a charge of age discrimination with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission in December 2015. (Richards
Aff. (Docket No. 41) Exs. B, C.) In December 2016, when they
filed this lawsuit, Doyle was 57 years old and Weber was 55.
(Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16, 35.)
who has worked at O'Reilly since 2008, contends that he
wanted to be promoted to Regional Manager but was never given
a promotion. He does not point to any specific Regional
Manager position to which he was not promoted during the
relevant limitations period, and he concedes that he never
applied for any open Regional Manager position. (Robb Aff.
Ex. B (Docket No. 42-2) (Doyle Dep.) at 46-47.) He contends
instead that O'Reilly had a practice of hand-picking
individuals for promotion, and that these individuals were
usually younger than he was.
has worked at O'Reilly for 12 years. In June 2015, he
interviewed for a promotion to Divisional Sales Manager.
(Robb Aff. Ex. A (Docket No. 42-1) (Weber Dep.) at 49-50.)
Weber was not selected for the promotion. The job instead
went to Chris Burr, another Regional Sales Manager who was 32
years old at the time he was promoted.
allege that, at a company meeting in either 2014 or 2015,
operations Divisional Vice President Kenny Martin stated that
the company had put “young guys” into key
positions to keep the company going when “all these old
guys” are gone. (Am. Compl. ¶ 28.) Martin also
allegedly told the group that the business was a “young
man's game.” (Id.) Weber and Doyle offer
conflicting testimony as to when this meeting occurred.
(Doyle Dep. at 77 (“I'm pretty sure it was in
2015.”); Weber Dep. at 128 (“It would have been,
I believe, in 2014.”) O'Reilly offers the
declarations and expense reports of other attendees at this
meeting, who aver that the meeting occurred in June 2014 and
who do not recall Martin making any age-related comments.
(Def.'s Supp. Mem. at 16-17 (citing declarations).)
O'Reilly argues that, to the extent there is a question
of fact regarding what Martin may have said at this meeting,
any claims regarding those comments are outside the statute
after his interview for the Divisional Sales Manager
position, Weber alleges that he and two other higher-level
sales managers, Fred Wadle and Jeff Watts, interviewed two
men for a lower-level Territorial Sales Manager position.
(Weber Dep. at 90-92.) One of the men was older and one was
younger. According to Weber, after the interviews Watts drew
a line down the center of a piece of paper, writing
“maturity and experience” on one side and
“youth and moldability” on the other.
(Id. at 96.)Plaintiffs allege that O'Reilly hired
the younger individual (Am. Comp. ¶ 47), but Weber later
acknowledged that O'Reilly in fact hired both
individuals. (Weber Dep. at 93-94.) Both Watts and Martin
participated in Weber's interview for the District Sales
Manager position, although O'Reilly's Senior Vice
President, Keith Childers, was ultimately responsible for
hiring for that position. (Robb Aff. Ex. C. (Docket No. 42-3)
(Childers Dep.) at 62-63.)
2013, another O'Reilly employee sued O'Reilly
alleging age discrimination against Kenny Martin. Severe
v. O'Reilly Auto. Stores, Inc., 92 F.Supp.3d 892
(N.D. Iowa 2015). The Severe court found that
summary judgment was inappropriate based, in part, on a
pattern of Martin promoting younger individuals. Id.
at 907. Plaintiffs contend that this lawsuit is at least
circumstantial evidence of Martin's discriminatory intent
and makes summary judgment inappropriate.
Plaintiffs' initial charge of discrimination and first
Complaint in this matter raised claims under both federal and
state law, Plaintiffs subsequently amended their Complaint
and now claim only age discrimination under the Minnesota
Human Rights Act (“MHRA”), Minn. Stat. §
363A.08 et seq. Age-discrimination claims under the MHRA and
the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(“ADEA”) are analyzed in the same way, usually
using the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting approach
for evaluating a circumstantial-evidence case. Chambers
v. Metro. Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 351 F.3d 848, 855
(8th Cir. 2003) (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973)). Plaintiffs contend that
there is direct evidence of discrimination here and thus
argue that the Court need not engage in the burden-shifting
analysis. However, none of Plaintiffs' evidence is
related to any of the employment decisions they challenge.
Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031,
1045-46 (8th Cir. 2011) (“A remark by a decisionmaker,
in order to be direct evidence of . . . discrimination, must
show a specific link between a discriminatory bias and the
adverse employment action, sufficient to support a finding by
a reasonable fact-finder that the bias motivated the
action.”). Plaintiffs' evidence is, at best,
circumstantial evidence and thus the McDonnell
Douglas analysis applies. Chambers, 351 F.3d at
the MHRA, a plaintiff is required to file a charge of
discrimination “within one year after the occurrence of
the [challenged employment] practice.” Minn. Stat.
§ 363A.28, subd. 3(a). Plaintiffs filed their charge on
December 7, 2015, rendering any challenged employment action
before December 2014 outside the statute of limitations.
did not apply for a promotion, but he claims that he
repeatedly told his supervisors that he wanted to be
promoted. He asserts that O'Reilly does not post job
openings, making it impossible for him to apply for
promotions. He also alleges that, in the year before he filed
his charge of discrimination, O'Reilly promoted seven
younger individuals to positions that would have been a
promotion for Doyle. (Pls.' Opp'n Mem. at 17-18.) As
O'Reilly points out, however, Doyle's allegations are
based on an erroneous report provided in discovery.
O'Reilly corrected the error with a supplemental
production indicating that only two ...