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Coburn v. Lyman Products Corp.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

December 15, 2017

PAUL COBURN, Plaintiff,
v.
LYMAN PRODUCTS CORPORATION, Defendant.

          RULING ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Paul Coburn (“Mr. Coburn” or “Plaintiff”), a seventy-three-year-old man living in Windham, Connecticut, sued Lyman Products Corporation (“Lyman Products” or “Defendant”) under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., for refusing to hire him. Lyman Products moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that Mr. Coburn has failed to allege facts sufficient to infer age discrimination.

         For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion to dismiss is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Allegations

         In the spring of 2014, Lyman Products had an open position for a customer service representative. Compl. ¶ 11, ECF No. 1. The manager of the customer service department allegedly reached out to David Lyman, the owner of a large shooting range, and asked whether he could recommend anyone for the open position. Id. ¶ 14. Mr. Lyman allegedly recommended Mr. Coburn, a seventy-three-year-old man with fifty-five years of experience in the handloading and firearms industry. Id. ¶¶ 15, 23.

         Lyman Products then invited Mr. Coburn to apply for the position. Id. ¶ 11. Mr. Coburn applied, id. ¶ 12, and interviewed with the human resources manager and the customer service department manager, id. ¶¶ 16-17. They allegedly told Mr. Coburn that he would need a second interview before he could be hired and instructed him to call Lyman Products in two days to arrange for the second interview; Mr. Coburn allegedly called, but no one responded to or ever returned his call. Id. ¶¶ 19-21. Mr. Coburn also alleges that Lyman Products never contacted his references. Id. ¶ 22.

         Lyman Products allegedly acknowledged that Mr. Coburn possesses the skill and technical ability to perform the job, but nevertheless hired Julie Rodriguez, a woman twenty-five years younger than Mr. Coburn, who allegedly did not meet the minimum published requirements for the position. Id. ¶¶ 25-26. Mr. Coburn alleges that Ms. Rodriguez left the position after approximately one month “as she was unable to perform the work, ” and that after that, the position remained open for approximately six months. Id. ¶¶ 27-28. Mr. Coburn allegedly applied for the position again, but received no response from Lyman Products. Id. ¶ 28.

         Approximately six months later, Lyman Products allegedly hired Joan Starrin for the position, someone approximately twenty-five years younger than Mr. Coburn, and who also allegedly did not meet the minimum published requirements for the position. Id. ¶¶ 29-30. Several months after that, Lyman Products hired another person for the position, someone approximately twenty-five years younger than Mr. Coburn, who also allegedly did not meet the minimum published requirements for the position. Id. ¶¶ 31-32.

         Mr. Coburn filed a timely claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and received a Notice of Right to Sue. Id. ¶¶ 5-6.

         B. Procedural History

         On January 26, 2017, Mr. Coburn filed this Complaint, claiming that Lyman Products violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 623, by refusing to hire Mr. Coburn for the customer service representative position, despite Mr. Coburn's qualifications for the job. Id. ¶¶ 33-36. Mr. Coburn alleges that Lyman Products treated him “in a disparate manner based upon his age.” Id. ¶ 37.

         Lyman Products has moved to dismiss the Complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that Mr. Coburn has failed to allege facts sufficient to support a plausible inference that “but-for his age, he would have been hired.” Mot. to Dismiss at 5, ECF No. 14. Lyman Products argues that “[t]he mere fact that those hired were younger than the Plaintiff, in particular where Plaintiff was 73 years old, is not enough to plausibly establish an inference of discriminatory motive, ” and that Mr. Coburn's Complaint does not contain any other facts that would support such an inference. Id. at 6.

         II. ...


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