EEOC v. MCI Intern., Inc., Civ. A. No. 90-1198(MTB).

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
Writing for the CourtBARRY
Citation829 F. Supp. 1438
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 90-1198(MTB).
Decision Date02 August 1993
PartiesEQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff, v. MCI INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.

829 F. Supp. 1438

EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
MCI INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.

Civ. A. No. 90-1198(MTB).

United States District Court, D. New Jersey.

August 2, 1993.


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Susan C. Cassell, Asst. U.S. Atty., Newark, NJ, and Valerie Toohey O'Dell, E.E.O.C., Philadelphia, PA, for plaintiffs

Joseph A. Dickson, Clemente, Dickson & Mueller, Morristown, NJ, and Christine H. Perdue, Huton & Williams, Fairfax, VA, for defendant.

829 F. Supp. 1444

OPINION

BARRY, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") brings this action against MCI International, Inc. ("MCII") on behalf of thirty-nine former MCII employees alleging that MCII made certain employment decisions on the basis of age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634. The allegedly discriminatory acts arise for the most part out of the acquisition by MCII of RCAG Global Communications, Inc. ("RCAG") in May, 1988. Plaintiff claims that MCII laid off employees, failed to subsequently rehire employees, and retaliated against employees on the basis of age.

MCII has moved for summary judgment on the layoff claims brought on behalf of thirty-four of the thirty-nine claimants and on all the failure to rehire and retaliation claims. For the reasons which follow, defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted in its entirety.1

II. Factual Background

The following background facts have been stipulated by the parties. On May 16, 1988, MCII, a subsidiary of MCI Communications Corporation, acquired RCAG Global Communications, Inc. ("RCAG"), located in Piscataway, New Jersey, from the General Electric Company. At the time of the acquisition, MCII operated facilities in New York City, Fort Lee, New Jersey, and Rye Brook, New York.

RCAG salaried employees were eligible to participate in the RCA Retirement Plan. Among the benefits offered under this plan was the option to receive pension benefits in a lump sum payment rather than periodic payments. In addition, the RCA Plan offered medical and life insurance coverage to retirees at reduced costs. In late 1987, General Electric announced restrictions on the lump sum payment option after December 31, 1988. These restrictions were rescinded in February, 1988.

The contract of sale between General Electric and MCI provided that retiree medical and life insurance benefits under the RCA Retirement Plan would be preserved for all RCAG employees 55 years of age or older at the time of the acquisition. Thus, RCAG employees 55 or older as of the purchase date could later qualify for the RCA medical and life insurance benefits.

Between May 17 and May 20, 1988, MCII sent welcome letters to the RCAG employees who were being retained, informing the recipient of his or her MCII departmental assignment, supervisor, salary and grade, and work location. The letters also provided information about MCII's performance review system and informed the employees that they were covered by MCII's benefits.

Letters were also sent to those employees who were being released. These letters described the MCII benefits available: severance pay based on length of employment using years of service with RCAG to calculate the severance due, pay for unused vacation time, and continuation of medical and life insurance benefits for the duration of severance pay with an option to continue coverage thereafter at the employee's own expense. MCII followed a general procedure in laying off employees. A meeting was held between the employee, his or her supervisor, and a representative from MCII's human resources department. At this meeting, the employee was given the layoff letter and the supervisor explained that the layoff was the result of reductions in staff.

Of the thirty-nine claimants remaining in this action,2 twenty-three were laid off shortly

829 F. Supp. 1445
after the acquisition; the remaining sixteen claimants were terminated between June, 1988 and June, 1990. All but Joseph Coppola, who was employed at MCII's New York City facility, were employed at MCII's Piscataway, New Jersey facility at the time they were laid off

III. General Statement of the Law

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Which facts are material is dependent on the substantive law being applied. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that there are no genuine issues of material fact for trial regardless of which party would have the ultimate burden of proof at trial. Chipollini v. Spencer Gifts, Inc., 814 F.2d 893, 896 (3d Cir.) (in banc), cert. dismissed, 483 U.S. 1052, 108 S.Ct. 26, 97 L.Ed.2d 815 (1987). Where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden in a motion for summary judgment by showing that the nonmoving party has failed to adduce evidence sufficient to establish an essential element which the nonmovant would have to prove at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the moving party establishes such a failure of proof, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings and demonstrate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 324, 106 S.Ct. at 2553; Matsushita Elec. Industrial Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). If the evidence is merely colorable or not particularly probative, summary judgment may be granted. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. at 2510-11. In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. at 1356; Gray v. York Newspapers, Inc., 957 F.2d 1070, 1078 (3d Cir.1992).

Plaintiff alleges violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634. Section 7(b) of the ADEA provides for enforcement of the Act by incorporating the powers, remedies, and procedures of sections 16(b), 16(c), and 17 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 216(b), 216(c), and 217. Under sections 16(c) and 17 of the FSLA, the EEOC may sue on behalf of an employee and may seek injunctive relief. 29 U.S.C. §§ 216(c) and 217; EEOC v. Corry Jamestown Corp., 719 F.2d 1219, 1221 (3d Cir. 1983). Recognizing the advantages in proceeding collectively not only to ADEA plaintiffs but to the judicial system by virtue of the "efficient resolution in one proceeding of common issues of law and fact arising from the same alleged discriminatory activity", an "opt-in" class action may be brought under § 216(b), and damages for a violation of the ADEA obtained. Hoffman-La Roche, Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 170, 110 S.Ct. 482, 486, 107 L.Ed.2d 480 (1989).

The EEOC brings this action pursuant to these provisions, characterizing what is before the court as a "class action". Pl. Opp.Br. at 1. It is not. Wholly aside from the fact that in this circuit it has been assumed, if not decided, that certification of a purported class is required, Lusardi v. Lechner, 855 F.2d 1062 (3d Cir.1988), and there has been no certification here, the "similarly situated" requirement of § 216(b) is simply not met. That requirement, while less stringent

829 F. Supp. 1446
than the requirement of F.R.Civ.P. 23(b) that common questions of law and fact predominate, nonetheless mandates that there be a common thread unifying the putative class of employees allegedly laid off on the basis of age. Lusardi v. Xerox Corp., 118 F.R.D. 351, 361 (D.N.J.1987)

What is seen here is "`a monster that no one can deal with, made with a lot of individual people with specific grievances'". Id. There is no single, company-wide action but, rather, layoffs by various supervisors of persons, on an employee by employee basis, of widely disparate ages, salaries, and positions over a two year period of time. The factual and/or employment setting of each person's layoff is different, many varying questions of law are raised, and the defenses posited are individual to each or small groups of those persons. And while this action alleges that the putative class was adversely affected by a pattern or practice of discriminatory treatment, no such pattern or practice is the least bit evident. Indeed, the only common thread seen here is that the persons involved were forty years old or older and were laid off by MCII. That is clearly not enough.

Thus, class action or no class action, what is before this court on this motion are thirty-four separate disparate treatment cases and, were this motion to be denied in all respects instead of granted, thirty-nine separate disparate treatment cases EEOC would have this court try as one. To say that a trial of this action would be complicated and lengthy would be a gross understatement, as evidenced, for starters, by the fact that the list of prospective witnesses covers more than ninety pages of the Final Pretrial Order. This action could most likely have been pared down had application to do so been made. It was not, and this court will press on.

The ADEA prohibits discrimination against persons over age 40 with respect to "compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's age." 29 U.S.C. § 623(a). In order to ultimately prevail in an action under the...

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36 practice notes
  • Ali v. Reno, No. 93 Civ. 4661 (CLB) and 93 Civ. 4683 (CLB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • August 16, 1993
    ...of Justice, deportation is stayed temporarily by this Court for a period of ten (10) days from the date hereof to allow Petitioner 829 F. Supp. 1438 to seek a further stay from the Court of Appeals. See generally, Local Civil Rule 30(c)(2) of the Southern District of New So Ordered. -------......
  • Maidenbaum v. Bally's Park Place, Inc., Civ. No. 93-1475 (JEI)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • December 28, 1994
    ...32 F.3d at 775, 781 (citing Earley v. Champion Int'l Corp., 907 F.2d 1077, 1082 (11th Cir.1990); E.E.O.C. v. MCI Int'l, Inc., 829 F.Supp. 1438, 1477 Bally's list contains detailed statistics of not only the ages of one-game floorpeople considered for termination but also employees' gender a......
  • Sperling v. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., Civ. Action No. 85-2138 (HAA).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • April 30, 1996
    ...insufficient to support a finding that Roche engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination. See, e.g., EEOC v. MCI Intern., Inc., 829 F.Supp. 1438, 1446 (D.N.J.1993) ("There is no single, company-wide action but, rather, layoffs by various supervisors of persons, on an employee by empl......
  • Pepe v. Rival Co., No. CIV. A. 98-5091 AJL.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • December 15, 1999
    ...134 L.Ed.2d 433, (1996); Showalter v. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 190 F.3d 231, 234 (3d Cir.1999); EEOC v. MCI Int'l, Inc., 829 F.Supp. 1438, 1449 Pepe contends the Complaint alleges a failure to promote claim. See Opposition Brief at 23. A plaintiff seeking to overcome summary......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Ali v. Reno, No. 93 Civ. 4661 (CLB) and 93 Civ. 4683 (CLB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • August 16, 1993
    ...of Justice, deportation is stayed temporarily by this Court for a period of ten (10) days from the date hereof to allow Petitioner 829 F. Supp. 1438 to seek a further stay from the Court of Appeals. See generally, Local Civil Rule 30(c)(2) of the Southern District of New So Ordered. -------......
  • Maidenbaum v. Bally's Park Place, Inc., Civ. No. 93-1475 (JEI)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • December 28, 1994
    ...32 F.3d at 775, 781 (citing Earley v. Champion Int'l Corp., 907 F.2d 1077, 1082 (11th Cir.1990); E.E.O.C. v. MCI Int'l, Inc., 829 F.Supp. 1438, 1477 Bally's list contains detailed statistics of not only the ages of one-game floorpeople considered for termination but also employees' gender a......
  • Sperling v. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., Civ. Action No. 85-2138 (HAA).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • April 30, 1996
    ...insufficient to support a finding that Roche engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination. See, e.g., EEOC v. MCI Intern., Inc., 829 F.Supp. 1438, 1446 (D.N.J.1993) ("There is no single, company-wide action but, rather, layoffs by various supervisors of persons, on an employee by empl......
  • Pepe v. Rival Co., No. CIV. A. 98-5091 AJL.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • December 15, 1999
    ...134 L.Ed.2d 433, (1996); Showalter v. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 190 F.3d 231, 234 (3d Cir.1999); EEOC v. MCI Int'l, Inc., 829 F.Supp. 1438, 1449 Pepe contends the Complaint alleges a failure to promote claim. See Opposition Brief at 23. A plaintiff seeking to overcome summary......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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