Downie v. Electric Boat Division, Civ. No. H-80-1.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
Writing for the CourtCLARIE
Citation504 F. Supp. 1082
PartiesArthur E. DOWNIE v. ELECTRIC BOAT DIVISION, a division of General Dynamics Corporation, Inc., a foreign corporation.
Decision Date31 December 1980
Docket NumberCiv. No. H-80-1.

504 F. Supp. 1082

Arthur E. DOWNIE
ELECTRIC BOAT DIVISION, a division of General Dynamics Corporation, Inc., a foreign corporation.

Civ. No. H-80-1.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut.

December 31, 1980.

504 F. Supp. 1083

Gerald D. Wahl, Haynes & Donnelly, Detroit, Mich., and John L. Bonee, Hartford, Conn., for plaintiff.

Peter Ellis and Laurie Burt, Foley, Hoag & Eliot, Boston, Mass., for defendant.


CLARIE, Chief Judge.

This case asserts various claims of breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-34. It is the latter allegation, embodied in Count III of the complaint, which is the subject of the motion presently before the Court. The Court finds that the plaintiff has failed to comply with the procedural filing requirements of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Therefore, the defendant's motion for summary judgment, insofar as it is directed against the plaintiff's ADEA allegations, is granted. The Court further notes that the plaintiff has failed to allege properly the jurisdictional amount, a prerequisite to a diversity action. The plaintiff is allowed ten days to file an amended complaint curing this defect. Carroll v. General Medical Co., 53 F.R.D. 349, 350-51 (D.C.Neb.1971). See also 2A Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 8.11, at 8-79 (2d ed. 1980).


This Court has jurisdiction, based on the allegations of the complaint, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331(a), 1332(a); 29 U.S.C. § 633a(c).


The plaintiff was employed by the defendant from 1948 to 1977. His final position with the defendant was "Procurement Management Engineering Representative." At some point in early 1977, the plaintiff's employment with the defendant was terminated. The precise date of this termination is subject to some confusion, in that the defendant claims to have informed the plaintiff of his termination on a number of separate occasions.

Frederick Whitehouse, the plaintiff's former supervisor, claims to have informed the

504 F. Supp. 1084
plaintiff, "on March 9th or 10th, 1977 that his employment with Electric Boat would be terminated. He further advised Mr. Downie of the decision to sever his employment in telephone conversations from Mr. Downie on or about March 21, 25, 28 and 31, 1977."1 Second, a letter signed by Whitehouse, and dated April 15, 1977, states "This is to officially notify you that effective April 1, 1977, your employment with this Division has been terminated: `Left Voluntarily —Personal Reasons (Reasons Unknown2).'" On this same topic, the plaintiff has taken varying positions. In the complaint he stated, somewhat ambiguously, that he "was terminated during April, 1977 ...3." In an affidavit filed with this Court, the plaintiff claimed "On April 15, 1977, I was terminated by Defendant . . .4." Finally, in a sworn complaint filed with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the plaintiff claimed, "On April 16th I received a letter notifying me that I was terminated effective April 1st, 1977 ...5."

On August 23, 1978, the plaintiff notified the Secretary of the United States Department of Labor of his intention to commence a suit against the defendant under the authority of the ADEA.

Discussion of the Law

The defendant has claimed that the plaintiff was completely deficient in complying with the filing requirements of the ADEA, as prescribed in 29 U.S.C. § 626(d). That section provides, in part, that no civil action by an individual may be commenced under the ADEA unless a charge alleging unlawful discrimination has been filed with the Secretary of Labor within 180 days after the "alleged unlawful practice occurred." 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(1). Alternatively, in "deferral" states (i. e. those states which have enacted age discrimination laws, 29 U.S.C. § 633(b)), the charge must be filed, at the latest, "within 300 days after the alleged unlawful practice occurred." 29 U.S.C. § 626(d)(2).

The identification of the date of the "alleged unlawful practice" (in this case, the plaintiff's alleged wrongful termination) is a condition precedent to the application of sections 626(d)(1) or 626(d)(2). The Eighth Circuit has noted that the Act's "failure to define the specific time when an alleged unlawful practice occurs is tantamount to a procedural ambiguity which should be construed in favor of the complaining party." Moses v. Falstaff Brewing Corp., 525 F.2d 92, 94 (8th Cir. 1975).

The plaintiff has alleged that the defendant provided him with some type of medical examination several months after his termination. In addition, he claims, at least some of these medical examinations were paid for by the defendant. Thus, argues the plaintiff, his employment status was "uncertain," until he became aware of facts supporting his cause of action. This date, he claims, was August 22, 1978, when he contacted his present counsel.

The plaintiff's view is not supported by either precedent or logic. The retention of new counsel was not the event which informed the plaintiff that he had been terminated. A number of communications from the defendant, culminating in the letter of April 15, 1977, informed the plaintiff that his employment was terminated. The 180 day period begins to run when "the employee knows, or as a reasonable person should know, that the employer has made a final decision to terminate him, and the employee ceases to render further services to the employer." Bonham v. Dresser Industries Inc., 569 F.2d 187, 192 (3d Cir. 1978). Uncertainty over the reason for the termination; uncertainty as to whether the termination will be remedied cannot serve to make the act of termination any less

504 F. Supp. 1085
certain. Coke v. General Adjustment Bureau, 22 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1352, 1353 (5th Cir. 1980); Wilkerson v. Siegfried Insurance Agency, 22 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 1583, 1585 (10th Cir. 1980); Wagner v. Sperry Univac, Division of Sperry Rand Corp., 458 F.Supp. 505, 512 (E.D.Pa.1978); Davis v. RJR Foods, Inc., 420 F.Supp. 930, 931 n.1 (S.D.N.Y. 1976), aff'd, 556 F.2d 555 (2d Cir. 1977)

The plaintiff's employment was terminated, by his own admissions, in April of 1977. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, Bishop v. Wood, 426 U.S. 341, 347 n.11, 96 S.Ct. 2074, 2079, 48 L.Ed.2d 684 (1975), the Court finds that the plaintiff has ceased to render services for the defendant, and received unequivocal notice of his termination, on April 16, 1977. It was on this date that the plaintiff claims to have received the April 15 termination letter which was signed by his former supervisor, Whitehouse.

April 16, 1977, was a Saturday and, therefore, the...

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