142 F.3d 1082 (8th Cir. 1998), 97-3302, Knowles v. Citicorp Mortg., Inc.

Docket Nº:97-3302.
Citation:142 F.3d 1082
Party Name:Sidney KNOWLES, Appellant, v. CITICORP MORTGAGE, INC., Appellee.
Case Date:April 23, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 1082

142 F.3d 1082 (8th Cir. 1998)

Sidney KNOWLES, Appellant,

v.

CITICORP MORTGAGE, INC., Appellee.

No. 97-3302.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 23, 1998

Submitted Feb. 13, 1998.

Page 1083

D. Gregory Stonebarger, Kansas City, MO, argued (James A. Leonard, on the brief), for Appellant.

Robert A. Kaiser, St. Louis, MO, argued (Jennifer L. Arendes, on the brief), for Appellee.

Before McMILLIAN and WOLLMAN, Circuit Judges, and BOGUE, 1 District Judge.

WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.

Sidney Knowles appeals from the district court's 2 grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant Citicorp Mortgage, Inc. in Knowles' action alleging violations of the Veteran's Reemployment Rights Act, 38 U.S.C. §§ 2021-2027. We affirm.

I.

From June 1984 to October 1992, Knowles was employed in the collections department at Citibank, F.S.B. in Miami, Florida. His most recent job title at Citibank was that of recovery supervisor. As recovery supervisor, Knowles was responsible for the direct negotiation and collection of debts and for the management of certain debt-related litigation. Knowles was also a member of the Army National Guard.

At some point in 1992, Citibank's parent company, Citicorp Banking Corporation (Citicorp Banking), decided to close Citibank's Miami office as part of a widespread downsizing of Citicorp-related entities. As Knowles was aware, this closing would ultimately result in the elimination of his position. Upon closing, the responsibility for collecting outstanding accounts from the Miami office as well as accounts from various other closing offices was to be assumed by a separate Citicorp-related entity, Citicorp Mortgage, Inc. (Citicorp) in St. Louis.

In August of 1992, Knowles was called to full time active duty with the National Guard in South Dade County, Florida, in order to provide assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. At this time, Knowles was still employed at Citibank's Miami office. However, shortly after he was called to service, Citibank's Miami office closed, thus eliminating his position. Knowles thereafter began seeking alternative employment with other Citicorp-related entities. In late August or early September of 1992, Knowles met with Steve Halper, senior vice president of recovery at Citicorp, and Robert Oleson, assistant vice president of recovery at Citicorp, in order to discuss the possibility of obtaining employment at Citicorp's St. Louis office. Because he was on active duty, Knowles wore his military uniform to the meeting. Halper and Oleson informed Knowles that Citicorp was seeking to hire a collection supervisor to oversee collection of the various accounts that had recently been consolidated in St. Louis.

Page 1084

Shortly thereafter, while Knowles was still involved with the Hurricane Andrew project, Citicorp offered him the position of collection supervisor. This decision was apparently made by Oleson and Halper, both of whom were aware of Knowles' ongoing military obligation. Citicorp informed Knowles that the position would be held open for him while he completed his emergency duties with the National Guard in Florida. In the meantime, Citicorp asked Harold "Hal" Atkinson, who had held a similar position in Citibank's Dallas office, to perform the collection supervisor duties on an interim basis.

During this interim period, in September and early October of 1992, Knowles alleges that he had two disturbing phone conversations with Oleson, who was to be his supervisor at Citicorp. In the first conversation, Oleson told Knowles that he needed him in St. Louis right away, stating, "I don't give a damn about the military. I want you up here now." In addition, Knowles claims that Oleson threatened to replace him if he did not report immediately and ended the conversation in a rude manner by...

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