Id. at 511. Thus, with plaintiffs bearing the burden of proof, it would be the job of the factfinder to determine if First Union unlawfully discriminated against plaintiffs.
In attempting to carry their burden of proving discrimination, plaintiffs have not provided any information other than that relied upon to establish a prima facie case: the statistics which show that First Union chose a workforce which was less ethnically diverse and the stray remark concerning the multi-lingual workforce. In the face of many unimpeached, legitimate and non-discriminatory reasons proffered by defendants, these two pieces of evidence are not sufficient for plaintiffs to avoid summary judgment. Once the inference of discrimination is removed, the statistics do not provide any evidence of intentional discrimination. Furthermore, the one stray remark, which is neutral on its face, is not evidence of intentional discrimination. Faced with the evidence offered by plaintiffs, no reasonable trier of fact could conclude that First Union discriminated against its employees because of their ethnicity.
Additionally, plaintiffs have not pointed to any evidence that would support a finding that defendants' proffered reasons are pretextual. Instead, they attempt to say that defendants did not have sufficient support to reach their conclusions regarding the negative consequences of maintaining Reston. While these suggestions may suggest that First Union did not make the best business move, they are not evidence that the offered reasons are pretextual. Thus, plaintiffs have not produced any evidence that demonstrates a pretext or a discriminatory motive. This absence of evidence makes it impossible for a reasonable trier of fact to find in plaintiff's favor. See Devera v. Adams, 874 F. Supp. 17, 20-22 (D.D.C. 1995); Richardson v. NRA, 871 F. Supp. 499, 501 (D.D.C. 1994); Skelton v. ACTION, 668 F. Supp. 25, 29 (D.D.C. 1987).
III. Plaintiffs' Motion to Maintain Consolidated Actions under Federal Rule 42(a) of Civil Procedure
Plaintiffs have moved the court to consolidate for trial the race discrimination claims of former black First American and Meritor branch and assistant branch managers. Defendants oppose the consolidation arguing that the individualized nature of the claims of the plaintiffs make the claims inappropriate for consolidation. In large part, defendants rely on their belief that a decentralized process was used by First Union to make employment decisions. However, in Hyman I, the court concluded that plaintiffs had provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate a reasonable basis for concluding that the impetus for the alleged discrimination came from top officials within First Union. Here, plaintiffs' argument is again that the alleged discrimination began at the top and worked its way down through the ranks to the final decision-makers. Plaintiffs have provided evidence in support of this argument including statistical analyses and descriptions of the allegedly flawed decision-making process. Based upon this evidence, and upon a finding that the rights of defendants will not be prejudiced, the court will exercise its discretion to consolidate the actions so that the race termination claims may be tried together.
For these reasons, the court will grant defendants' motion for partial summary judgment on plaintiffs' Reston Servicenter ethnic discrimination claims and deny as moot plaintiffs' motion to maintain the Reston Servicenter claims as a class action. The court will grant plaintiffs' motion to maintain a consolidated action for all black branch managers and assistant black managers alleging employment discrimination.
A separate order shall be issued today.
Royce C. Lamberth
United States District Judge
For the reasons stated in the accompanying opinion, it is hereby
ORDERED that defendants' motion for partial summary judgment as to the former Reston Servicenter plaintiffs' ancestry claims is GRANTED, and it is further
ORDERED that the Reston Servicenter plaintiffs' claims of discrimination based on ancestry are DISMISSED, and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiffs' motion to maintain the former Reston Servicenter plaintiffs' ancestry claims as a class action is DENIED as moot, and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiffs' motion to consolidate the race discrimination claims of former black First American and Meritor branch and assistant branch managers is GRANTED, and it is further
ORDERED that the consolidated action shall include all black plaintiffs who were branch managers and assistant branch managers at First American and Meritor, all of whom were terminated by First Union in 1993. They shall present the following issue, and such other factual and legal issues as it may encompass: Did First Union follow a pattern or practice of race discrimination in deciding which branch and assistant branch managers to terminate, and it is further
ORDERED that the consolidated action shall be tried in a trial separate from the age termination claims, to take place after the completion of the age termination trial.
Royce C. Lamberth
United States District Judge