The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Joseph E. Irenas
IRENAS, Senior District Judge:
Plaintiff, Irwin Geltzer, brings this age discrimination and retaliation suit against his former employer, Defendant Virtua West Jersey Health Systems ("Virtua"). Geltzer, who was a part-time nuclear medicine technologist at Virtua, asserts that because of his age Virtua twice rejected him for a full time position and then fired him. Virtua moves for summary judgment.
For the reasons stated herein, the Motion will be granted.*fn1
From 2002 to 2008 Geltzer was employed by Virtua hospital as a part time, "per diem" nuclear medicine technologist. Per diem technologists cover certain hours when there is no regular technologist on duty at the hospital. On a typical day, Geltzer was scheduled to be "on-call" for two to five hours. He was paid a minimal hourly rate (approximately $5.00 per hour) for simply being available while on-call. If Geltzer was actually called into the hospital to perform a test, he was paid at least $34.50 per hour, and Virtua guaranteed payment for two hours of work, even if the test performed was completed in less than two hours. (Leshik Supp. Cert. ¶¶ 4-5)
In late August or early September 2007, a full-time nuclear medicine technologist position became available. Geltzer testified,
A: . . . I went over to Debbie [Grigioni] and inquired about the position. And her comment to me was, you really don't want to work full-time, you are getting old. And I didn't really-- this was late on a Friday evening and I didn't really think much of it.
I came back in the next workday. I said, yeah, I do want to apply for [the position].
Q: You told that to Debbie?
Q: And what did Debbie say?
A: Okay. (Geltzer Dep. Vol. I p. 94-95) At the time, Geltzer was approximately one month away from his 65th birthday. (Def's Ex. 13)
Three other people also applied for the position, and all four applicants-- Geltzer, Ed Quinn, Rakesh Patel, and John Kraus-- were given a panel interview. The panel consisted of four Nuclear Medicine employees, including Grigioni.
Each panelist completed a one-page "interview rating" form at the end of each interview. The form asked for a numerical ranking of "1 = least" to "5 = very good" rating of each candidate on seven attributes: "technical expertise"; "communication skills"; "team work"; "decisionmaking" / "willing to take direction"; "organization skills" / "time management"; "handling of criticism & feedback"; and "social desirability."*fn2
(Def's Ex. 7) Thus, 35 was the maximum score any one panelist could give an applicant.
Quinn received the highest average score of 33.4; and Geltzer received the lowest average score of 30.3. (Def's Ex. 7) Notably, while one panelist gave every candidate a 35, each of the other three panelists gave Geltzer the lowest relative score.*fn3 (Id.; Regn Cert. ¶ 8; Pawlowski Cert. ¶ 8)
Quinn was chosen for the position.*fn4 When Geltzer asked Grigioni why he was not selected, she stated that she was "choosing to take the department in a different direction," which Geltzer interpreted as Grigioni wanting to take the department in a younger direction. (Geltzer Dep. Vol. II p. 13-15)
In November 2007, another full-time nuclear medicine technologist
position became available. Geltzer and Patel applied for the position.
This time, a panel of three conducted the interviews.*fn5
Again, Geltzer received the lowest average score. (Regn Cert.
¶ 10; Pawlowski Cert. ¶ 10) Patel was selected for the
position.*fn6 Geltzer testified that Grigioni again
told him that she wanted to take the department in "a
different direction." (Geltzer Dep. Vol. II p. 59-60)
Then in early 2008, Danielle Leshik, Lead Nuclear Technologist, began investigating discrepancies in the time records of another per diem employee. She certifies, [d]uring that investigation, I came across what I believed were inconsistencies in Mr. Geltzer's time records. Specifically, it appeared that Mr. Geltzer was recording time, and thus receiving pay, for 'on-call' duty during times when no patients were scheduled or recorded for testing or treatment. I checked Mr. Geltzer's time records and found that, in certain instances when Mr. Geltzer had clocked in, there was no corresponding patient test recorded in the Department log book. I also discovered that Mr. Geltzer had clocked in on numerous occasions when he was not in fact called in for a STAT test. . . .
I then brought the evidence of Mr. Geltzer's violations to the attention of . . . Debra Grigioni. Ms. Girgioni did not ask me to review Mr. Geltzer's timesheets; nor did my investigation initially ...