United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKT. NO. 27]
Vanessa L. Bryant, United States District Judge
Joseph Montini brings the instant case pursuant to the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), 29
U.S.C. § 621, et seq., and the Connecticut Fair
Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”), Conn. Gen.
Stat. § 41-60, et seq., alleging that his
teaching contract was not renewed due to discrimination on
the basis of age. Now before the Court is Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment on both claims. For the reasons
that follow, summary judgment is GRANTED.
was born on March 9, 1954, making him 61 years-old when he
learned his teaching contract would not be renewed. [Dkt.
Nos. 27-3, 32-8 (“Pl. Dep.”) at 7]. He has a
Bachelor's of Science degree in Criminal Justice, and a
Master's Degree in Education. Id. Defendant
hired Plaintiff as a teacher in September 1999. Id.
at 9. When he was first hired, Plaintiff taught a full course
load, or five sections, in the Religion department.
Id. at 18. Prior to the 2011-2012 school year,
Plaintiff expressed an interest in teaching subjects outside
of the Religion department, and he began teaching a law
enforcement elective that he developed, as well as one health
class. Id. at 18-19. This allowed Plaintiff to
reduce the number of religion sections he was teaching to
three during the 2011-2012 school year. Id. The
health class fell within the Physical Education department,
and the law enforcement class fell within the Social Studies
department. Id. at 24. By the following school year,
Plaintiff had further reduced the religion classes he taught
to two, and by the 2013-2014 school year, he was teaching
civics, law enforcement, forensics, and health education, and
he no longer taught any religion classes. Id. During
the 2014-2015 school year, the Plaintiff taught courses in
health, marketing, law, and forensics. [Dkt. No. 32-4 at 10;
Pl. Dep. at 31, 34]. In addition to his standard teaching
responsibilities, Plaintiff developed an on-line health class
that was offered during the summer, he invited a DEA agent
and a forensic psychologist to speak with his forensics
class, he organized a field trip, he monitored the
driver's education class four or five times and proctored
in the weight room “a number of times, ” and he
served on several committees that required periodic
attendance. [Pl. Dep. at 55-62].
10, 2014, Plaintiff signed an employment agreement with
Defendant. Id. at 9; Dkt. No. 27-4 (“Exh.
B”)]. Included as an appendix to this agreement was a
“Teacher's Annual Contract, ” which covered
the 2014-2015 school year, and which Plaintiff signed on June
5, 2014. [Pl. Dep. at 9; Dkt. No. 27-5 (“Exh.
C”)]. Article III of the employment agreement provided
that either party to the Teacher's Annual Contract could
notify the other party by April 5th of an intention not to
renew the Teacher's Annual Contract for the following
year. [Pl. Dep. at 11; Exh. B at 1]. On March 13, 2015, the
Headmaster of Xavier High School, Brother Brian Davis,
notified Plaintiff that his contract to teach at the school
would not be renewed for the 2015-2016 school year. [Pl. Dep.
at 11]. Plaintiff's employment officially ended on June
30, 2015. [Compl. ¶ 20]. The parties agree that the
Plaintiff's teaching abilities met expectations, and that
his termination was unrelated to his teaching performance.
[Dkt. Nos. 27-10, 32-7 (“Davis Dep.”) at 42].
couple of months prior to receiving notice that his contract
would not be renewed, Principal Brendan Donahue told
Plaintiff that he had met one of Plaintiff's
acquaintances, who said that she and Plaintiff were
“old friends.” [Pl. Dep. at 39]. Upon retelling,
Donahue said something to the effect of “oh, yeah,
he's real old” in a joking manner. Id.
Plaintiff also testified that on his birthday (March 9),
Davis, aged 68, said, “Today's your birthday,
” followed by an “off the cuff comment” the
substance of which Plaintiff did not remember. Id.
at Xavier High School declined from 870 in the 2012-2013
school year to 788 in the 2015-2016 school year. [Dkt. No.
27-6 (“Exh. D”) at 6]. The school avoided layoffs
following the 2013-2014 school year because a math teacher, a
religion teacher, and a social studies teacher resigned
voluntarily, and were not replaced. [Pl. Dep. at 35].
However, following the 2014-2015 school year, Defendant
determined that this decline necessitated a reduction in
force, and the contracts of Plaintiff and three other
employees were not renewed. [Exh. D at 9]. Two of the other
laid-off employees were teachers aged 39 and 43, and the
third was a 40 year-old guidance counselor. Id.
During the 2014-2015 school year, 66 percent of all employees
were above 40 years of age. [Dkt. No. 27-7 (“Exh.
Teacher's Annual Contract contains a section titled
“CONTRACT RENEWAL AND REDUCTION IN FORCE, ” which
When a reduction in force arises, it is the responsibility of
the administration, in consultation with the
director/department chairperson, and in accordance with
established evaluation procedures, to determine which member
of the faculty is to be terminated. A reduction in force
means a termination based on the fact that the teacher's
job no longer exists due to financial exigencies, decreased
enrollment, curriculum changes, or a job elimination due to
technology. The administration, in making the decision, shall
consider a record of teaching excellence as the primary
factor. The following factors shall also be considered:
versatility (multi-disciplined ability); a history of serving
and ability to serve the broadest needs of the school;
seniority; maintenance and enhancement of professional
education; and participation in extracurricular activities.
[Dkt. No. 32-6 (“Exh. 6”) Art. XI § 1.B.].
Defendant argues that it complied with this provision, and in
response to a discovery request seeking “all documents
reflecting on how the decision to lay the plaintiff off from
his employment was reached by [Defendant], ” produced
two course information documents, dated January 6, 2015 and
March 5, 2015, respectively. [See Dkt. No. 32-4
(“Exh. 4”)]. These documents list the projected
enrollment at Xavier High School, the numbers of sections of
each course taught in 2014-2015, and projected number of
sections needed for the 2015-2016 school year. Id.
The documents also list the faculty in each department, the
number of courses each faculty member taught in 2014-2015,
and the projected number of sections each faculty member
would be available to teach in 2015-2016. Id.
January 6, 2015 document, Plaintiff's name is listed on
the Social Studies department page, the Business/Computers
page, and the Physical Education page, which is consistent
with Plaintiff's testimony that he taught law, forensics,
marketing, and health. Id. at 10-12. There is a
section titled “IF CUTS BECOME NECESSARY” at the
bottom of most pages. Id. On the Social Studies
page, Law and Forensics are listed as half year courses (.5
sections) available only to seniors. Id. at 10. Also
available to seniors are seven additional Social Studies
department electives, including “Soc., ”
Psychology, Leadership, “Modern US, ” Military
History, Geography, and Native American Studies. Id.
Plaintiff's availability is listed as .5 sections less
for the 2015-2016 school year than for the 2014-2015 school
year, and the “cuts” section states,
“Will all electives run? (i.e. Economics, one
section of Leadership, etc.” and “Is there
flexibility of a teacher teaching outside of his discipline
(I.e. picking up Verbal Skills)?” Id. On
the Business/Computers page, Plaintiff is listed as having
taught .5 sections in 2014-2015, but having no availability
to teach within the department in 2015-2016. Id. at
11. The “cuts” section is blank. Id. On
the Physical Education page, Plaintiff is listed as having
taught three sections in 2014-2015 and having availability to
teach two sections in 2015-2016. Id. at 12. The page
also states, “What will be the teaching
responsibilities of Joe Montini and Tony Jaskot?”
March 5, 2015 document, Plaintiff is no longer listed as
having availability in any subject. Under Social Studies, the
course “Forensics” was crossed out by hand, and
the projected total number of Social Studies sections needed
for the 2015-2016 school year was lowered from 37 to 35.
[Dkt. No. 27-8 (“Exh. F”) at 7; Dkt. No. 27-9
(“Exh. G.”) at 4]. Typed at the bottom of the
page is, “Will we run forensics?” [Exh. G. at 4].
This question is also crossed out. Id. The Physical
Education page likewise has reduced the number of teaching
sections needed from 12 to 10.5 for the 2015-2016 school
year. Id. at 5.
March 2015, Donahue and assistant principals David Sizemore,
Andrew Gargano, and Nicholas Cerreta met with Davis to
discuss staffing needs for the 2015-2016 school year. [Davis
Dep. at 11-12]. Davis testified that at this meeting, the
principal and assistant principals presented Davis with a
written plan that presented “the number of teaching
sections in each department they would need, the courses that
would be offered for the coming year, and therefore, would
show [Davis] which areas [they] had more teachers that [they
were] going to need for the coming year.” Id.
at 13. Davis then answered affirmatively when ...