Blanciak v. Allegheny Ludlum Corp.

Decision Date16 February 1996
Docket NumberNo. 95-3055,95-3055
Citation77 F.3d 690
Parties70 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 27, 64 USLW 2579 Robert J. BLANCIAK; Raymond Bowman; William Burkett; Marlin D. Byers; Richard Cook; Robert E. Delledonne; Jack Delcimmuto; Richard T. Farah; Donald E. Holmes; James Markby; Donald C. Miller; Howard Mumau; Domonic Pocetti; Edward E. Primack; Anthony Rodnicki; William D. Rowe; Don Shellhammer; Paul R. Sibik; James Walker; Theodore W. Walker; Francis N. Amaranto; Leroy A. Calderone; Ronald E. Calhoun; Louis Ecaravaggio; Joseph W. Clark; George L. Fleeger; Ronald R. Fulton; Richard L. George; John M. Gulyas; Jack C. Hesketh; Robert Hutcherson; Robert D. Knabb; Bernard C. Kumpf; William John Morda; James E. Patty; Laura G. Poskus; Arthur L. Ramer; F. Eugene Smeltzer; Robert L. Stewart; Wesley E. Suman; Douglas E. Talmadge; Jack Wilmot, Jr., individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated v. ALLEGHENY LUDLUM CORPORATION; United Steelworkers of America; and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor & Industry; Harris Wofford, Secretary of Labor & Industry; Maurice Nates; John Krisiak; Stella Ravetto; R.C. Thomas; Charles E. Swartz, and various John Doe, and or Jane Doe(s) Robert J. Blanciak, Raymond Bowman, Joseph W. Clark; Jack Delcimmuto; Richard T. Farah, Richard George; John M. Gulyas; Jack C. Hesketh; Donald E. Holmes; Robert D. Knabb; James Markby; Donald C. Miller; James E. Patty; Dominic Pocetti; Edward E. Primack; Anthony Rodnicki; William Rowe; Don Shellhammer; F. Eugene Smeltzer; Robert L. Stewart; Douglas E. Talmadge and James Walker, Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit

Appeal from the United States District Court, for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

James B. Lieber (Argued), Lieber & Hammer, Pittsburgh, PA, for Appellants.

Ernest D. Praete, Attorney General, Gloria A. Tischuk (Argued), Deputy Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Pittsburgh, PA, for Appellees.

Before: STAPLETON, McKEE and GIBSON, * Circuit Judges.


McKEE, Circuit Judge.

We are asked to determine whether the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution bars a federal court from considering an age discrimination claim against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry ("Commonwealth"), that was acting in its capacity as an "employment agency" under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., when the alleged discrimination occurred. We must also determine whether the Eleventh Amendment bars an equitable award of "front pay" against the Commonwealth and its officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because we conclude that Congress has not abrogated the Eleventh Amendment's grant of constitutional immunity to states while acting as employment agencies under the ADEA, we will affirm the district court's finding that plaintiffs' ADEA claims are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Furthermore, because we conclude that plaintiffs' equitable "front pay" claims under § 1983 seek monetary compensation to remedy a past wrong, we will affirm the district court's finding that the Eleventh Amendment bars those claims. Finally, we conclude that plaintiffs' remaining declaratory and injunctive claims under § 1983 have been rendered moot.


The facts relevant to this appeal are easily summarized. In January 1988, the United States Steel Corporation ("USX") placed its Vandergrift, Pennsylvania plant in an idled status and stopped manufacturing or shipping products from the facility. Allegheny Ludlum Corporation ("Allegheny Ludlum") negotiated with USX and purchased the plant in June, 1988. In order to initially staff the facility, Allegheny Ludlum decided to hire fifty-five hourly employees from amongst the 125 who had previously worked at the plant. Accordingly, Allegheny Ludlum entered into an agreement with the United Steelworkers of America ("USWA") pursuant to which Allegheny Ludlum established a preferential hiring list for former Vandergrift employees who were USWA members (the "Agreement"). The Agreement gave Allegheny Ludlum the absolute right to select and assign thirty of the initial fifty-five hires. The remaining twenty-five were to be selected on the basis of continuous service, provided that they demonstrated the requisite skills for anticipated tasks.

The Job Services offices of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania function as a no-fee employment service to bring employers and job seekers together. The offices administer a General Aptitude Test Battery ("GATB") for use in referring applicants to cooperating companies that are looking for workers. The GATB consists of twelve separately timed tests which purportedly measure a broad range of occupationally relevant cognitive, perceptual and psychomotor skills. In June 1988, Allegheny Ludlum requested the New Kensington and Kittanning Job Services offices to accept applications and administer GATB tests to those individuals on its preferential hiring list.

The instant litigation arose when a group of former USX employees over the age of forty filed a civil action for damages, declaratory and injunctive relief against Allegheny Ludlum, the USWA and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, its Secretary and various employees ("the Commonwealth"). The Complaint alleged that the staffing of the Vandergrift facility violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq.; the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 216 et seq.; the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq.; the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 1985; the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 P.S. § 951, et seq.; and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, actionable under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs brought suit as a class action under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). 1 The complaint alleged that the defendants' had discriminated against the employees in the class on the basis of age by administering the GATB.

Following discovery, plaintiffs entered a sealed settlement agreement and stipulated to the dismissal of all claims against Allegheny Ludlum and the USWA. The remaining Commonwealth defendants then moved for summary judgment based upon the sovereign immunity enjoyed by the Job Services offices of the Commonwealth under the Eleventh Amendment. 2 The district court granted the Commonwealth's motion based upon sovereign immunity, and ruled that plaintiffs' remaining injunctive and declaratory claims against the Commonwealth had been rendered moot by the settlement agreement with Allegheny Ludlum and the USWA. This appeal followed.


We have jurisdiction over this appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Dismissal of an action based upon sovereign immunity is subject to plenary review by this Court. Fitchik v. New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, 873 F.2d 655, 658 (3d Cir.1989), cert denied, 493 U.S. 850, 110 S.Ct. 148, 107 L.Ed.2d 107 (1989). The district court's decision that this case is moot is also subject to plenary review. Northeast Women's Center, Inc. v. McMonagle, 939 F.2d 57, 61 (3d Cir.1991).


The Eleventh Amendment of the United States Constitution provides that:

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity commenced or prosecuted against any one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

U.S. Const. amend. XI. The Amendment has been interpreted to protect an unconsenting state from "suit in federal court by its own citizens as well as those of another state." Pennhurst State School v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100, 104 S.Ct. 900, 907-08, 79 L.Ed.2d 67 (1984); Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 10 S.Ct. 504, 33 L.Ed. 842 (1890).

There are, however, certain well-established exceptions to the protection of the Eleventh Amendment. Atascadero State Hospital v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 238, 105 S.Ct. 3142, 3145, 87 L.Ed.2d 171 (1985). If a state waives its immunity and consents to suit in federal court, the Eleventh Amendment does not bar the action. See e.g., Id. at 234, 105 S.Ct. at 3142; Clark v. Barnard, 108 U.S. 436, 447, 2 S.Ct. 878, 883, 27 L.Ed. 780 (1883). Moreover, Congress may specifically abrogate the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity. See e.g., Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer, 427 U.S. 445, 96 S.Ct. 2666, 49 L.Ed.2d 614 (1976) (finding abrogation in legislation passed pursuant to § 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment); and Pennsylvania v. Union Gas Co., 491 U.S. 1, 109 S.Ct. 2273, 105 L.Ed.2d 1 (1989) (finding abrogation in legislation passed pursuant to the Congress' Article I, § 8 plenary power over commerce). Here, appellants contend that Congress specifically abrogated the sovereign immunity of states and all state agencies in amending the ADEA, and that the Eleventh Amendment therefore presents no bar to their ADEA claim against the Commonwealth. However, the plain language of the ADEA defeats this argument.

Two conditions must be met before we can decide that Congress abrogated the states' Eleventh Amendment immunity in enacting or amending the ADEA. First, the congressional legislation in question must articulate an unequivocal congressional intention to abrogate the sovereign immunity of the states. Dellmuth v. Muth, 491 U.S. 223, 230, 109 S.Ct. 2397, 2401, 105 L.Ed.2d 181 (1989); Atascadero State Hospital v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 241, 105 S.Ct. 3142, 3146-47, 87 L.Ed.2d 171 (1985). On more than one occasion, the Supreme Court has said that Congress "must express its intention to abrogate the Eleventh Amendment in unmistakable language in the statute itself." Atascadero, 473 U.S. at 242, 105 S.Ct. at 3148; Dellmuth, 491 U.S. at 230, 109 S.Ct. at 2401 ("[E]vidence of congressional intent must be both unequivocal and textual."). "In traditionally sensitive areas, such as legislation affecting the federal...

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