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Johnson v. Lockheed Martin Corporation

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

May 1, 2014

DEDRA JOHNSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

JOSEPH M. HOOD, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Defendant Lockheed Martin Corporation's ("Lockheed Martin") Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 42]. Plaintiffs have filed a Response [DE 49], stating their objections to the Motion, and Defendant has filed a Reply [DE 57] in further support of its Motion. The Motion is ripe for resolution and, for the reasons stated below, shall be granted.

I. JURISDICTION

As an initial matter, the Court considers whether it has jurisdiction with respect to the claims of each Plaintiff. This action was filed on March 5, 2012, as a qui tam action, averring violations of the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729, et seq. The Complaint also averred violations of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, KRS 344.040. At that time, the Court had original jurisdiction over the federal claim, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over the claims averred by Plaintiffs under state law, see 28 U.S.C. § 1367. [ See also DE 1, Complaint at ¶¶ 7-8.] The False Claims Act claims were eventually dismissed, leaving only the state law claims, until such time as Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, which included a claim for relief by Plaintiff Stakelin under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq.

While this Court "may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim... if the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction, " 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), it has not exercised its discretion to do so in this instance. Jurisdiction was and is proper in light of 28 U.S.C. § 1331 with respect to the federal claims and is proper in light of 28 U.S.C. § 1367 with respect to the state law claims. It has been so since the commencement of this case, and the Court may properly consider Plaintiffs' claims.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In 2010, Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract with the United States Special Operations Command to provide services for Special Operations Forces Support Activity (a contract referred to by the parties as the "SOFSA contract"), which is a broadranging contract covering many types of services, anything from a "task order to repair a weapon, something small, to a $50 million or two $25 million task orders to build an MH-60 helicopter." Lockheed Martin subcontracted some of the work to be performed under the contract to other entities. DS2 was one of the entities that received a subcontract. The plaintiffs were employees of DS2 during the period of the subcontract between DS2 and Lockheed Martin.

DS2 employees reported directly to DS2 managers, but there was also a Lockheed Martin supervisor and/or Team Lead who worked in each area to ensure that work orders were completed in conformance with the production schedule and the customer's expectations. Lockheed Martin supervisors and/or Team Leads did not have the power to hire, fire, or discipline DS2 employees, but they were familiar with the skills and job performance of the DS2 employees, based on their observation of and interaction with the DS2 employees. Plaintiffs explain that DS2 managers were not subject matter experts with the skill set to provide direction or evaluate the performance of their employees - rather that was done by Lockheed managers. Plaintiffs contend that Lockheed managers were, in fact, the ones who conducted skills assessments for DS2 employees.

Fairly soon after the DS2 subcontract went into effect in September 2010, Lockheed Martin began receiving complaints from its Special Forces customer regarding the rates being charged for the work performed by DS2. Ultimately, Lockheed Martin deciding not to exercise any of the future options under the DS2 subcontract, and to hire persons to be employed by Lockheed Martin to perform the work on the contract which was being performed by DS2.

Lockheed Martin also decided that it could perform that work with fewer employees than had been used by DS2.[1] Specifically, while DS2 employed a little over 500 individuals to perform work on the SOFSA contract in Central Kentucky, Lockheed Martin planned to hire only about 400 individuals to do the same work. The decision not to extend the subcontract with DS2 and to use fewer employees than DS2 had been using required that Lockheed Martin solicit applications and hire approximately 400 employees within a very short period of time, beginning around August 8, 2011 and ending on September 5, 2011. Lockheed Martin accomplished this by posting just over 400 positions on its website, www.lockheedmartin.com/careers, on or about August 8, 2011, and advising interested DS2 employees of the open positions and how to apply.

DS2 employees were told that to be considered for a position by Lockheed Martin they would need to submit an application, but that they could apply for as many positions as they felt qualified to perform. The required application form did not seek information regarding the applicant's age.[2] Because the job openings were posted on Lockheed Martin's public website, persons other than DS2 employees were also able to apply, and Lockheed Martin received many thousands of applications for the approximately 400 jobs to be filled. Lockheed Martin, however, did not consider or interview any applicant who was not employed with DS2 and working on the SOFSA contract during this time.

Because Lockheed Martin was planning to hire only about 400 of the just over 500 DS2 employees in Central Kentucky, the next step in the process was for each hiring manager or supervisor to select which applicants to interview for their open jobs. "Skills assessment" matrixes were prepared by Lockheed Martin supervisors and team leads regarding the DS2 employees in their work areas to determine which applicants to interview.[3] These skills assessments were used by Lockheed Martin in deciding which applicants would be interviewed.[4]

Interviews were conducted by a panel of Lockheed Martin employees, including the hiring manager or supervisor and at least one representative from Human Resources, and to promote consistency, the same five questions were asked during each interview and a multi-page form was completed to reflect the interview panel's score/points for each interview. Following that process, Lockheed Martin made job offers to the interviewees who scored the highest on a combination of the skills assessment, workmanship, and interview, although Plaintiffs point to individuals who were interviewed or hired that received lower assessments than Plaintiffs Walker and Johnson.

Plaintiffs Stakelin and Walker were not selected for interviews because, Defendant explains, their skill assessments were too low to place them in competition for the positions for which they had applied relative to other DS2 employees who had applied for the same positions. Defendant contends that Plaintiff Johnson was not selected for an interview based on a combination of her skills assessment score and because she had a number of write ups for poor work product. Finally, while Plaintiffs Prather and Thompson received interviews, they were not offered positions by Lockheed Martin based on their combined scores for their skills, workmanship, and interview responses.

By contrast, Johnson, Stakelin, Walker, Prather, and Thompson claim that they were not hired by Lockheed Martin during the DS2 transition due to their ages. At the time that Lockheed Martin was selecting which of the DS2 employees it would hire, Johnson was age 53, Stakelin was age 54, Walker was age 60, Prather was age 53, and Thompson was age 60. ...


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