Bleakley v. Jekyll Island-State Park Authority, Civ. A. No. CV 281-20.

Citation536 F. Supp. 236
Decision Date12 March 1982
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. CV 281-20.
PartiesAnne M. BLEAKLEY, Plaintiff, v. JEKYLL ISLAND — STATE PARK AUTHORITY, Robert S. Case, and Charles S. Skypek, Defendants.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Georgia)

Alvin Leaphart, Alan Smith, Brunswick, Ga., for plaintiff.

Gary R. Hurst, Asst. Atty. Gen., Atlanta, Ga., for defendants.


ALAIMO, Chief Judge.

This suit charges a state instrumentality and certain of its employees with violations of federal age discrimination laws. The plaintiff alleges that she was dismissed from her job with the Jekyll Island — State Park Authority solely due to her age and without regard to the quality of her performance. The plaintiff seeks redress under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The case is presently before the Court on the motion of all defendants to dismiss, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), and the motion of defendant Robert S. Case for summary judgment. Fed.R. Civ.P. 56(b).

The motion to dismiss raises interesting questions of constitutional law: first, whether the 1974 amendments to the ADEA, making that Act applicable to state governments, are constitutional, and second, whether a dismissed state employee can bring an equal protection claim charging age discrimination without alleging a pattern of dismissals arbitrarily based on age?

In addition to these questions the defendants raise subsidiary questions about the type of relief afforded by the ADEA.1 Specifically, they challenge the legality of the plaintiff's claim for compensatory and punitive damages, for attorney's fees for services performed at the state administrative level, and for the value of future pension benefits that did not vest at the time of her firing.2 For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES the motion to dismiss in all its aspects, except that it limits the plaintiff's right to recover compensatory and punitive damages to her equal protection claim against the individual defendants. Furthermore, the Court GRANTS the defendant Case's motion for summary judgment and orders the suit dismissed as to that defendant.

I. The Constitutionality of the 1974 ADEA Amendments.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was passed in 1967 in order to promote the "employment of older persons based on their ability rather than age" and to prohibit "arbitrary age discrimination ...." 29 U.S.C. § 621(b). Originally applicable only to private employers, coverage of the Act was extended in 1974 to include state and local governments. 29 U.S.C. § 630(b). See Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1974, Pub.L.No. 93-259, § 28, 88 Stat. 55 (1974). The defendants contend that the ADEA claim in the instant case must be dismissed because the 1974 amendments are unconstitutional under the holding of National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833, 96 S.Ct. 2465, 49 L.Ed.2d 245 (1976).

In National League of Cities the Supreme Court struck down amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that extended the FLSA's minimum wage and maximum hour provisions to almost all state and municipal employees. The amendments at issue were passed pursuant to Congress' power under the commerce clause, and the Supreme Court found that the Tenth Amendment limited that power when its exercise would "directly displace the States' freedom to structure integral operations in areas of traditional governmental functions ...." Id at 852, 96 S.Ct. at 2474.

But courts interpreting National League of Cities subsequently held that the Tenth Amendment limitation only speaks to Congressional action under the commerce clause, and does not limit Congressional action against states qua states taken pursuant to other constitutional powers. See, e.g., Lafayette v. Louisiana Power & Light Co., 435 U.S. 389, 98 S.Ct. 1123, 55 L.Ed.2d 364 (1978) (Burger, C. J., concurring); Peel v. Florida Dep't of Transp., 600 F.2d 1070 (5th Cir. 1979); Marshall v. Owensboro-Daviess County Hospital, 581 F.2d 116 (6th Cir. 1978). In previous challenges to the constitutionality of the ADEA amendments at issue sub judice, most courts ruled that the amendments were enacted pursuant to section five of the Fourteenth Amendment, and thus the Tenth Amendment limitation on Congressional action was inapplicable. See, e.g., Arritt v. Grisell, 567 F.2d 1267 (4th Cir. 1977); Johnson v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 515 F.Supp. 1287 (D.Md.1981); Usery v. Board of Educ. of Salt Lake City, 421 F.Supp. 718 (D.Utah 1976).

In 1981, however, the Supreme Court said in Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 451 U.S. 1, 101 S.Ct. 1531, 67 L.Ed.2d 694 (1981), that a court "should not quickly attribute to Congress an unstated intent to act under its authority to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment," id. at 15, 101 S.Ct. at 1538, 67 L.Ed.2d at 706, and went on to hold that the Developmentally Disabled Assistance & Bill of Rights Act of 1975 was passed pursuant to Congress' spending powers. Thus, the movants in the instant case argue that Pennhurst casts doubt on the continued validity of the Arritt line of cases. They contend that like the Act at issue in Pennhurst, the 1974 amendments to the ADEA did not state which specific power Congress was exercising, and that the 1974 amendments were passed as part of a bill amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, an Act that was enacted pursuant to the commerce clause. Therefore, they argue, Congress exercised its commerce power in passing the ADEA amendments and the analysis of National League of Cities is appropriate. As state parks and recreation areas are a component of "governmental service that the states and political subdivisions have traditionally afforded their citizens," the ADEA amendments must be struck down as violative of the Tenth Amendment.3

This Court finds it unnecessary to consider the constitutional source of the 1974 ADEA amendments because it considers the amendments constitutional even if enacted under the commerce clause. The Fifth Circuit has held that not every exercise of Congress' commerce power when directed to states qua states is invalid under the Tenth Amendment. Peel v. Florida Dep't of Transp., supra, 600 F.2d at 1084. Instead, the Circuit has ruled that the policies of federalism underlying the decision in National League of Cities requires a balancing test to determine the constitutionality of Congressional action under the commerce clause.4 Id. at 1083. In the instant case the Court must balance the exercise of Congress' commerce power against the impact of the ADEA on Georgia's integral governmental functions. In so doing, the Court concludes that the Act does not displace state decision-making, and does not "substantially restructure traditional ways in which the local governments have arranged their affairs." National League of Cities v. Usery, supra, 426 U.S. at 849, 96 S.Ct. at 2473.

In National League of Cities the Supreme Court was concerned with the financial burdens placed on the states by application of minimum wage and maximum hours rules. The Court felt that these strains might result in increased taxes, or worker lay-offs, or "forced relinquishment of important governmental activities." Id. at 847, 96 S.Ct. at 2472. See Peel v. Florida Dep't of Transp., supra, 600 F.2d at 1083. But the considerations that moved the National League of Cities Court do not arise from an application of the ADEA. Under the ADEA, states remain free to set all substantive terms of employment: it merely restricts them from classifying on the basis of age when age is an arbitrary consideration in the workplace. A state may still classify on the basis of age when age is a "bona fide occupational qualification," 29 U.S.C. § 623(f)(1), and may classify employees according to reasonable factors other than age. 29 U.S.C. § 623(f)(3). See U.S. E.E.O.C. v. County of Calumet, 519 F.Supp. 195 (E.D.Wis.1981). Importantly, Georgia itself protects individuals from age discrimination in public employment, Ga.Code Ann. § 89-1701, et seq., thereby evidencing that age discrimination is contrary to state policy and serves no sovereign state function. U.S.E.E.O.C. v. County of Calumet, supra, 519 F.Supp. at 202. Therefore this Court cannot say that Congress' extension of the ADEA to state and local governments is an unconstitutional exercise of its commerce power as prohibited by the Tenth Amendment.

In so holding, this Court is acting consistent with other Fifth Circuit decisions in collateral areas. In Pearce v. Wichita County Hospital Board, 590 F.2d 128 (5th Cir. 1979), the Fifth Circuit upheld the extension of the Equal Pay Act to the states as a constitutionally permissive exercise of Congress' commerce power. Accord, Marshall v. Dallas Independent School District, 605 F.2d 191, 193 n.3 (5th Cir. 1979); Marshall v. Georgia Southwestern College, 489 F.Supp. 1322, 1329 (M.D.Ga.1980). Like the ADEA, the Equal Pay Act looks to the provisions of the FLSA for enforcement, see 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(3) (Equal Pay Act); 29 U.S.C. § 626(b) (ADEA), and the amendments to the Equal Pay Act applying it to the states were included in the same bill as the ADEA amendments. See Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1974, supra. Moreover, the Equal Pay Act probably exerts a greater federal force on state employment decisions than the ADEA. That Act requires that men and women receive equal pay for equal work, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d), and possibly forces noncomplying states to re-evaluate employment costs and displace state monies from other areas. Nevertheless the Fifth Circuit has ruled that the potential interference does not rise to the level of displacing a state's freedom to structure its employer-employee relationships. Pearce v. Wichita County Hospital Board, supra, 590 F.2d at 132. Such reasoning applies a fortiori in the case of the ...

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