354 F.Supp. 1040 (D.Del. 1973), Civ. A. 4384, Jenkins v. General Motors Corp.

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 4384
Citation:354 F.Supp. 1040
Party Name:Jenkins v. General Motors Corp.
Case Date:January 05, 1973
Court:United States District Courts, 3th Circuit, District of Delaware

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354 F.Supp. 1040 (D.Del. 1973)

Edward L. JENKINS, Plaintiff,


GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, a Delaware corporation, and United Automobile Workers Local 435, Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 4384.

United States District Court, D. Delaware.

Jan. 5, 1973

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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L. Vincent Ramunno, Wilmington, Del., for plaintiff.

Allen M. Terrell, Jr., of Richards, Layton & Finger, Wilmington, Del., for defendant General Motors Corp.

Harvey B. Rubenstein, Wilmington, Del., for defendant United Automobile Workers Local 435.

Jack L. Gould, E. E. O. C., Baltimore, Md., amicus curiae.


STAPLETON, District Judge.

This action seeks redress for alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.), Section 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (42 U.S.C. § 1981), and the Labor Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.). Plaintiff is a black citizen of the United States who, as of July 9, 1968, was employed by defendant General Motors Corporation ("GM") at its auto assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware and was a member in good standing of defendant United Automobile Workers Local 435 ("Local 435").

Count I of the complaint paraphrases the wording of the Title VII definition of an "unlawful employment practice" 1 and charges GM with unspecified, racially discriminatory "policies, practices, customs and usages." The only factual allegations supporting these conclusory charges are found in the following two paragraphs of the complaint:

"6(b). Plaintiff was subjected to severe provocation and harassment by the foreman during the one and one-half years of employment. Plaintiff was yelled and cursed at, called 'Little Sambo', etc. Many other Negro employees were treated in the same manner.

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Caucasian employees were not similarly harassed and intimidated.

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10. As a further result of said discrimination, plaintiff Edward J. Jenkins was caused to lose considerable income, in that he was out of work from July 9, 1968 to December of 1968 and his loss amounted to approximately $150 per week during that time. He has continued and is still continuing to have decreased earnings as a result of said discrimination."

Count I also charges that Local 435 has made no attempt to correct this situation.

Count II of the complaint alleges that Local 435 violated its "duty of fair representation imposed ... by the National Labor Relations Act in that ... [it] acquiesced and/or joined in the unlawful and discriminatory practices and policies [of GM] complained of in ... [Count I and has] failed to protect the Negro members of the company from said discriminatory policies and practices."

Plaintiff purports to bring this action on behalf of himself and all "Negro persons who are employed or might be employed by ... [GM] at its auto assembly plant located in Wilmington, Delaware and who are members of ... [Local 435], who have been and continue to be or might be adversely affected by the practices complained of herein." In support of the class claim plaintiff expressly invokes Rule 23(b)(2) and alleges:

"... There are common questions of law and fact affecting the rights of the members of this class who are, and continue to be limited, classified and discriminated against in ways which deprive and tend to deprive them of equal employment opportunities and otherwise adversely affect their status as employees because of race and color. These persons are so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable. A common relief is sought. The interest of said class are adequately represented by plaintiff. Defendants have acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class."

The complaint prays for an injunction restraining defendants from continuing the discrimination referred to in the complaint and a judgment requiring defendants to "pay the plaintiff for his loss of income, punitive damages and for the costs of this suit."

Both GM and Local 435 have moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the action is barred by state and federal statutes of limitations and that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

The complaint and the supplementary affidavits filed by the parties reveal the following undisputed facts. Plaintiff first informed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("the Commission") of the alleged racially inspired harassment and discharge referred to in the complaint by a letter received on November 22, 1968. On December 2, 1968 plaintiff sent the Commission a completed charge form which the Commission transmitted to the State of Delaware, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, on December 18, 1968, in accordance with Section 706(a) of Title VII. On January 2, 1969, the Commission received a letter from the Delaware Department of Labor and Industrial Relations stating that its receipt of the matter was untimely and that Delaware, therefore, was returning it to the Commission for handling. On January 2, 1969, plaintiff's charge was filed with the Commission. On March 18, 1969 plaintiff's charge was amended and the amended charge was served on GM on March 20, 1969. An investigation ensued.

On February 1, 1971, the Commission sent plaintiff a letter advising him that it found reasonable cause to believe that his charge was true and that conciliation efforts with GM would be undertaken. Conciliation efforts failed and on March 2, 1971, the Commission received a letter from plaintiff acknowledging that conciliation

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had failed and requesting the Commission's assistance in obtaining an attorney to handle his case in court. Subsequently, plaintiff retained an attorney admitted to practice before the bar of this Court. On January 27, 1972, pursuant to plaintiff's request, the Commission transmitted to plaintiff's attorney a Notice of Right to Sue Within Thirty Days. This notice was received by the...

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