838 F.2d 286 (8th Cir. 1988), 86-2498, Wilson v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp.

Docket Nº:86-2498.
Citation:838 F.2d 286
Party Name:10 Fed.R.Serv.3d 100 William E. WILSON, Appellant, v. WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION, Appellee.
Case Date:February 01, 1988
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 286

838 F.2d 286 (8th Cir. 1988)

10 Fed.R.Serv.3d 100

William E. WILSON, Appellant,

v.

WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION, Appellee.

No. 86-2498.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 1, 1988

Submitted Oct. 15, 1987.

Page 287

H. Kent Munson, St. Louis, Mo., for appellant.

Michael Minton, St. Louis, Mo., for appellee.

Before LAY, Chief Judge, HENLEY, Senior Circuit Judge, and ARNOLD, Circuit Judge.

ARNOLD, Circuit Judge.

William Wilson appeals from the District Court's order granting summary judgment to defendant Westinghouse Electric Corporation in Wilson's action under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as under the Missouri law of contract and fraud. We agree with the District Court that Wilson's claims relating to his initial termination are time-barred, and that Wilson has failed to raise a genuine issue of fact from which a jury might reasonably conclude that the 180-day statutory limitations period was tolled. We hold, however, that the District Court erroneously dismissed on jurisdictional grounds Wilson's alternate action under the ADEA for Westinghouse's failure to rehire him, and we remand for further proceedings on this theory. Finally, we affirm the District Court's summary judgment for Westinghouse on Wilson's pendent state-law claims.

I.

Wilson was hired to direct scheduling at Westinghouse's St. Louis Transformer Service Center in January 1978, when he was 51 years old. Wilson remained at his job until 1982, when Westinghouse directed him to train a younger employee to perform the scheduling in St. Louis. On June 30, 1982, Westinghouse sent Wilson a letter informing him that his employment had been terminated and that Westinghouse would provide him with separation allowance of one-half salary for nine months beginning in August 1982. On June 28, 1983, Wilson filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that Westinghouse had unlawfully terminated because of his age.

The District Court awarded summary judgment for Westinghouse on Wilson's

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termination claim on the ground that Wilson filed his initial EEOC charge after the 180-day limitations period provided by the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 626(d)(1), had expired. On appeal, Wilson argues that the limitations period began to run, not with his June 30, 1982, termination letter, but with the expiration of his severance benefits on April 30, 1983, which would have made the filing of his EEOC charge two months later timely. We cannot accept Wilson's proposed alternative termination date. In Delaware State College v. Ricks, 449 U.S. 250, 101 S.Ct. 498, 66 L.Ed.2d 431 (1980), the Supreme Court rejected a Title VII plaintiff's attempt to establish his final day of employment as the effective date of the "unlawful employment practice," holding instead that the 180-day limitations period commences when the plaintiff receives notice of a termination decision. For present purposes, the limitations provisions for employment-discrimination actions under Title VII and the ADEA are identical, and we are bound to apply the rule in Ricks to the present case. When Westinghouse terminated Wilson, its letter gave him clear notice of its decision well over 180 days before Wilson filed his initial EEOC charge. We do not agree with Wilson's contention that the letter was ambiguous.

Wilson's stronger argument against Westinghouse's limitations defense accepts the June 30, 1982, termination date for purposes of the statute, and claims instead that Westinghouse's conduct justifies the equitable tolling of the limitations period. Wilson asserts on appeal that he understood only that his position in St. Louis was being eliminated, and that Westinghouse had consistently promised him that a new position within the company would be found.

Prior to Westinghouse's motion for summary judgment on its limitations defense, Wilson's testimony at deposition was that

[His supervisor] said [Wilson] was being terminated. He did not say the job was being eliminated. Its not possible to eliminate scheduling in a manufacturing plant.

Wilson Deposition at 188-89, quoted in Brief for Appellee at 15. When asked why he believed that Westinghouse had lulled him into a false sense of security after his termination, Wilson responded:

Everyone I talked to said, you know, everyone is doing everything they...

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