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Angione v. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 29, 2016

MICHAEL ANGIONE, Plaintiff,
v.
SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT CORP., ARNOLD HANAFIN CORP., Defendants.

          Michael Angione, Plaintiff, represented by John T. Bochanis, Daly, Weihing & Bochanis.

          Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Defendant, represented by Eric L. Sussman, Day Pitney LLP, James Michael Leva, Day Pitney LLP & Keegan A. Drenosky, Shipman & Goodwin.

          Arnold Hanafin Corporation, Defendant, represented by Stephen M. Sedor, Durant, Nichols, Houston, Hodgson & Cortese-Costa PC & Rachel L. Ginsburg, Pullman & Comley.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING DEFENDANTS SIKORSKY AIRCRAFT CORP. AND ARNOLD HANAFIN CORP.'S MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Dkt. ## 53, 54]

          VANESSA L. BRYANT, District Judge.

         Plaintiff Michael Angione ("Angione") brings a claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., against Defendants Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. ("Sikorsky") and Arnold Hanafin Corp. ("Arnold") (collectively the "Employer Defendants"). The Employer Defendants have each moved for summary judgment. For the reasons that follow, the motions are GRANTED.

         I. Factual Background

         Defendant Arnold is a provider of temporary workers for various companies, including Defendant Sikorsky. [Dkt. #53-1, Def. Arnold's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 1; Dkt. #66, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 1]. When a client alerts Arnold of a need for a temporary worker, Arnold provides the client with possible candidates who may be qualified to perform the work sought. [Dkt. #53-1, Def. Arnold's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 2; Dkt. #66, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 2]. Thereafter, the client decides which candidate, if any, to accept. [ Id .]. Once a client accepts a temporary worker from Arnold, Arnold and the temporary employee execute an "Employment Agreement, " which clearly states that the employee's work assignment is temporary and is at the will of the client. [Dkt. #53-1, Def. Arnold's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 5; Dkt. #66, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 5]. Once the Employment Agreement is in place, the employee performs all of his or her work at the client's facilities, under the direction and supervision of the client. [Dkt. #53-1, Def. Arnold's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 6; Dkt. #66, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 6]. When the client ends the temporary assignment, the temporary employee's Employment Agreement with Arnold also ends. [Dkt. #53-1, Def. Arnold's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 7; Dkt. #66, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 7].

         Plaintiff Angione began working for Sikorsky, as a temporary employee of Arnold, on November 6, 2007. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 1; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 1; Dkt. #53-1, Def. Arnold's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 15; Dkt. #66, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 15]. That day, Angione signed an Employment Agreement with Arnold. [Dkt. #53-1, Def. Arnold's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 15; Dkt. #66, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 15]. The Agreement stated that Arnold

provides the services of its employees to clients on a temporary contract or project basis. Therefore, the length of the assignment will be based upon the project and/or supplemental work force requirements of the Client. Any reference to the length of assignment is an estimate and termination of employment will be governed by the terms of this agreement.

         [Dkt. #53-1, Def. Arnold's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 15; Dkt. #66, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 15; Dkt. #53-11, Ex. 1 to Callahan Aff. at ¶ 1]. It further stated that Angione was "bound by any applicable rules, regulations, or policies established by Client wherever Employee performs services." [Dkt. #53-11, Ex. 1 to Callahan Aff. at ¶ 12]. Finally, the Agreement provided that it was "terminable at will by either party.... [E]ither the Employee or [Arnold] or both may terminate this agreement at any time for any reason or no reason at all with or without prior notice." [ Id . at ¶ 13].

         Angione's initial assignment at Sikorsky was as a materials analyst in Sikorsky's Avionics Department. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 9; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 9]. While working in this Department, Angione was supervised by Robert Anderson ("Anderson"). [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 10; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 10]. After working approximately two years in the Avionics Department, Angione was assigned to the Aerospace Services ("SAS") group. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 10; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 10, Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 69:21-70:1]. The group within SAS in which Angione worked was led by David Garbien, a materials manager. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 10; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 10]. Roughly two years later, in July 2011, Angione was assigned to a different group within SAS, where he reported to a different materials manager, James Caldwell ("Caldwell"). [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 11; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 11]. Caldwell, in turn, reported to Jeffrey Laczkoski ("Laczkoski"). [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 12; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 12]. Angione remained in this role at SAS until February 22, 2012, when both his temporary employment at Sikorsky and Employment Agreement with Arnold were terminated. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 13; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 13].

         During his four years at Sikorsky, Angione contends that he applied for at least five permanent positions within the company. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 14; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 14]. Three of these applications were for a position as a materials analyst, the position in which Angione worked during his time at Sikorsky. [Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 255:15-19]. Angione otherwise applied for positions in Sikorsky's purchasing and finance groups. [ Id .].

         Angione asserts that in 2008, he applied and interviewed for a financial analyst position at Sikorsky. [Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶¶ 15, 17; Dkt. #70, Angione Aff. at ¶¶ 15, 17]. The position was located in Sikorsky's Finance Department, a different department from the one in which Angione worked. [Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 209:18-20]. Angione was not hired. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 18; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 18]. Angione claims a younger employee was hired, but offers conflicting accounts as to the identity of the person. Compare [Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 19 (stating that "[t]he financial analyst position was filled by an individual who was approximately 30 years old" and citing to paragraph 17 of his affidavit); Dkt. #70, Angione Aff. at ¶ 17 (stating that "Kevin Bova, a contract employee approximately ten years younger than me was hired... for the position of buyer ") (emphasis added)] with [Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 193:24-194:3 (stating that Sikorsky "hired some kid... Thirty years old" whose name Angione could not remember)].[1] Regardless, Angione admits that he has no knowledge of the alleged hiree's qualifications, position he held, whether he was an internal or external hire, or any other circumstances surrounding his hire. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 20; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 20].

         Sometime in 2008 or 2009, Angione applied for a materials analyst position in the Avionics Department, where he was working as a contract employee. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 21; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 21]. Angione was interviewed by Anderson, his direct supervisor at the time. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 22; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 22]. A week later, Anderson informed Angione that he was not selected for the position. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 23; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 23; Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 258:4-10]. Anderson did not give a reason, nor did Angione ask him for one. [Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 258:12-16]. Angione asserts that a younger male, Kevin Bova, was hired, and that later, he said to Anderson, "Kevin [Bova] does not have a college degree. You want a college [degree]... I don't understand." [ Id . at 258:22-24]. Angione does not submit evidence indicating what, if any, response Anderson gave him.[2]

         Sometime in 2009 or 2010, Angione again applied for a materials analyst position. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 24; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 24]. The position had been posted online, and after applying, Angione received a call from an unidentified male manager informing him that he was qualified for the position. [Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 183:1-184:20]. After a period of silence, Angione followed up with the manager, who informed him that Sikorsky had decided not to fill the position. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 25; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 25].[3]

         Finally, in the spring of 2011 (or thereabout), Angione claims that he applied for a materials analyst position for a third time, as well as for a buyer position. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 26; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 26; Dkt. #70, Angione Aff. at ¶ 18]. The materials analyst position was in Sikorsky's Commercial Aircraft Department, a different department from the one in which Angione worked. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 31 Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 31; Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 209:10-13]. A position in the group opened when an unknown individual was promoted, and that person recommended Angione for the position he was vacating. [Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 197:22-198:21]. Angione interviewed for the position, but he was not hired. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 29; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 29; Dkt. #70, Angione Aff. at ¶ 18]. Angione could not recall any details about the individuals who recommended and interviewed him for the position, nor does he know who, if anyone, was hired. [Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 199:4-9, 19-22, 203:18-20]. However, he did recall that the individual who recommended him "was totally stupefied" that Angione was not selected, and he believed that Sikorsky cancelled the requisition. [ Id . at 200:3-4, 203:20-204:12].

         As for the purchasing position, Angione interviewed, and afterward, spoke with the hiring manager, who allegedly told him that he was not hired for the position because he did not have a college degree and did not have experience with software required to perform the duties of the position. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 30; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 30]. The manager also explained that Angione's "background was more in warehousing" and he was looking for someone with experience "in the overall procurement end, " which Angione acknowledged "would have been hard to learn." [ Id . at 213:1-5]. Angione does not know whether the buyer position was ever filled. [ Id . at 214:15-19]. Defendant Sikorsky maintains that it has no record of Angione applying for any positions in 2011. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 32; Dkt. #54-8, Ex. 6 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Redlowsk Decl. at ¶ 3].

         At the time Angione was working at Sikorsky, the company had a policy in effect called the "Sikorsky Security and Access Requirements." [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 39; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 39; Dkt. #54-8, Ex. 6 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Redlowsk Decl. at ¶ 4]. The policy prohibited employees from "send[ing] or receiv[ing] mail or electronic messages through [Sikorsky's] mail or computer systems... or conduct[ing] any personal or business activities unrelated to... the services the contract employee is performing." [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 39; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 39]; see also [Dkt. #54-10, Ex. 8 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J at 2]. Angione admits that he received and opened a link to Sikorsky's policies and procedures, including the "Sikorsky Security and Access Requirements, " but could not recall which, if any, of the policies he reviewed. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶¶ 38-39; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶¶ 38-39]. Indeed, at his deposition, Angione testified that he opened the link, noticed that it contained "some rules and regulations policy, " but he "didn't really read it." [Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 94:1-6]. Regardless of whether he reviewed the policies he was given, Angione further admitted at his deposition that at different times, his supervisors, Caldwell and Anderson, told him that he was not supposed to be using Sikorsky's email or internet for personal, non-work-related purposes. [ Id . at 107:25-108:4, 24-25]. Accordingly, Angione testified that he understood that Sikorsky had a rule that he could not use Sikorsky resources to perform personal work. [ Id . at 107:7-24].[4]

         Contrary to his sworn testimony that he was informed about the computer policy in an email which he opened and read and recognized that it contained rules prescribing the use of Sikorsky computers, Angione averred in a sworn affidavit that while he was working at Sikorsky, he was never explicitly warned about his use of email, never informed that he was not permitted to send email unrelated to his work during periods that he was not "direct billing/charging a client" of Sikorsky for work on a project, and that he observed an unknown number of unidentified Sikorsky employees "using email for non-employment related matters." [Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶¶ 33, 37, 39, 45-48; Dkt. #70, Angione Aff. at ¶ 11]. Angione also points out that one of his supervisors, Caldwell, admitted to occasionally sending personal emails while working at Sikorsky. [Dkt. #68, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement of Disputed Facts at ¶ 17 (citing Ex. B to Pl.'s Opp'n, Caldwell Dep. at 39:1-25)].

         On December 22, 2011, Angione sent an email from his Sikorsky-provided email address to an individual named "Ron, " an employee of the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of a company called "R3 Omni." [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶¶ 54, 60; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶¶ 54, 60]. The email discussed a kiosk that the United States Army had purchased from R3 Omni, and a proposal R3 Omni had presented to the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶¶ 58, 60; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶¶ 58, 60; Dkt. #54-15, Ex. 13 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J. at SIK0072-73]. Angione's email states that one of the attachments was "the offer we presented to the chamber in Norwalk." [Dkt. #54-15, Ex. 13 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J. at SIK0073]. The parties agree that this email was unrelated to Angione's duties at Sikorsky. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 59; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 59].

         At the time Angione sent the email he was not an employee of R3 Omni, but he planned to become employed with the company if it got "off the ground." [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 56; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 56]. After his termination from Arnold and Sikorsky, Angione became associated with R3 Omni. [Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 57; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 57; Dkt. #54-6, Ex. 4 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J., Angione Dep. at 125:1-7]. In particular, at his deposition, Angione confirmed the accuracy of public documents referencing him as R3 Omni's director of procurement and logistics, and testified that he lists his position at R3 Omni on his resume. [ Id . at 124:3-9, 126:14-24].

         Angione further avers in opposition to the Employer Defendants' motion for summary judgment that at the time he sent the email, he had no business interest in R3 Omni, at no point did he have "a formal business affiliation with R3 Omni, " and that he sent the email as a personal favor for his friend, Jim Condron, the owner of R3 Omni, because the recipient, "Ron, " was an acquaintance of Angione's at the Norwalk Police Department. [Dkt. #70, Angione Aff. at ¶ 21].[5]

         On February 17, 2012, Kent Johnson, a Sikorsky purchasing manager, forwarded Angione's email to John Cerreta, a Sikorsky materials manager. [Dkt. #54-15, Ex. 13 to Def. Sikorsky's Mot. for Summ. J. at SIK0072]. Johnson explained that he received the email from another Sikorsky employee who, in turn, had received the email from his brother, an intended recipient, who noticed Angione's Sikorsky email address and title and was curious if Sikorsky was behind the kiosk sale. [ Id .; Dkt. #54-1, Def. Sikorsky's Rule 56(a)(1) Statement at ¶ 66; Dkt. #67, Pl.'s Rule 56(a)(2) Statement at ¶ 66]. Eventually, Angione's email made its way to his supervisor, Laczkoski, and ultimately, to Amanda Weaver (nee Sanella), a human resources employee at ...


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