LaPointe v. United Autoworkers Local 600, No. 92-1280

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtCONTIE; BATCHELDER
Citation8 F.3d 376
Parties63 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 262, 63 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 42,641 Leo LaPOINTE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. UNITED AUTOWORKERS LOCAL 600, and Doug Thompson, Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date09 December 1993
Docket NumberNo. 92-1280

Page 376

8 F.3d 376
63 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 262,
63 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 42,641
Leo LaPOINTE, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
UNITED AUTOWORKERS LOCAL 600, and Doug Thompson, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 92-1280.
United States Court of Appeals,
Sixth Circuit.
Argued Dec. 1, 1992.
Decided Oct. 27, 1993.
Rehearing and Suggestion for Rehearing
En Banc Denied Dec. 9, 1993.

Page 377

Gary A. Benjamin (argued and briefed), Gary A. Benjamin, Detroit, MI, for plaintiff-appellant.

Jordan Rossen, Connye Y. Harper (argued and briefed), Associate Gen. Counsel, Intern. Union, UAW, Detroit, MI, for defendants-appellees.

Before: MILBURN and BATCHELDER, Circuit Judges; and CONTIE, Senior Circuit Judge.

CONTIE, Senior Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant Leo LaPointe appeals the summary judgment dismissal of his Age Discrimination in Employment Act claim. We reverse and remand for the following reasons.

I.

Plaintiff-appellant Leo LaPointe ("LaPointe") was employed by the Ford Motor Company ("Ford") in its Parts Depot from 1967 until his retirement on January 1, 1990. While employed by Ford, LaPointe was a member of defendant-appellee United Autoworkers Local 600 ("Local 600"), an amalgamated union whose membership works for several different employers. Consequently, Local 600 is divided into "bargaining units," each representing more than 600 employees governed by elected officers including a chairman, a president, and a vice president.

Each bargaining unit president has the authority to recommend individuals to fill union positions created by the collective bargaining agreement. The recommendation is forwarded to the Local Union's president, then to the regional director of the International Union, then to an International Union vice president who, alone, has the authority to appoint individuals to, or remove individuals from, these positions. The responsibilities of these appointed union positions are governed by the terms of the collective bargaining agreements.

Defendant-appellee Doug Thompson ("Thompson") served as the bargaining unit president for the Parts Depot from 1981 to 1990. In 1988, Thompson recommended that 49-year-old LaPointe be named the bargaining unit's Health and Safety Representative. The International Union accepted Thompson's recommendation and formally appointed LaPointe to the Health and Safety Representative position in February, 1988. LaPointe continued to be employed by Ford during his tenure as the bargaining unit's Health and Safety Representative.

LaPointe contends that soon after his union appointment he became the target of Thompson's ridicule and harassment. On November 29, 1989, LaPointe executed an application for retirement benefits (effective January 1, 1990) pursuant to the Special Early Retirement Opportunities Program negotiated by Ford and the United Autoworkers union. 1 LaPointe's union position was ultimately filled by a 44-year-old individual.

Page 378

On April 24, 1990, LaPointe filed an Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") charge against Local 600 with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). 2 On May 30, 1990, LaPointe filed a four-count complaint in Wayne County Circuit Court. The appellees, relying on federal question jurisdiction, removed the lawsuit to federal court on December 3, 1990. The district court subsequently remanded Count I (wrongful discharge) and Count IV (intentional infliction of emotional distress and interference with contractual relations) to state court, but retained jurisdiction over Count II (age discrimination) and Count III (breach of the duty of fair representation). On September 10, 1991, the appellees moved for summary judgment.

The district court granted the appellees' summary judgment motion on February 7, 1992, 782 F.Supp. 347, after determining that: LaPointe had failed to set forth a prima facie case of age discrimination; and, LaPointe had failed to exhaust internal union remedies prior to filing his fair representation claim.

LaPointe thereafter filed a timely notice of appeal challenging only the dismissal of his ADEA claim.

II.

Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and ... the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A district court's grant of summary judgment is reviewed de novo. Pinney Dock & Transp. Co. v. Penn Cent. Corp., 838 F.2d 1445, 1472 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 880, 109 S.Ct. 196, 102 L.Ed.2d 166 (1988). In its review, this court must view all facts and inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. 60 Ivy St. Corp. v. Alexander, 822 F.2d 1432, 1435 (6th Cir.1987).

The moving party has the burden of conclusively showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Id. Nevertheless, in the face of a summary judgment motion, the nonmoving party cannot rest on its pleadings but must come forward with some probative evidence to support its claim. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); 60 Ivy St. Corp., 822 F.2d at 1435.

"By its very terms, this standard provides that the mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986) (emphasis in original). The dispute must be genuine and the facts must be such that if they were proven at trial, a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. 60 Ivy St. Corp., 822 F.2d at 1435. If the disputed evidence "is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50, 106 S.Ct. at 2511 (citations omitted).

ADEA Claim

Though LaPointe argues on appeal that he "need not show that he was replaced

Page 379

by someone outside the protected class in order to establish a prima facie case of age discrimination," Appellant's Brief at 13, the appellant's contention is belied by established Sixth Circuit precedent:

The elements of a prima facie case of age discrimination require that the charging party demonstrate that (1) she was a member of the protected class, i.e., [at least 40] years of age; (2) that she was subjected to an adverse employment action; (3) that she was qualified for the particular position; and (4) that she was replaced by a person not a member of the protected class.

Gagne v. Northwestern Nat'l Ins. Co., 881 F.2d 309, 313 (6th Cir.1989) (emphasis added). See also Ang v. Procter & Gamble Co., 932 F.2d 540, 548 (6th Cir.1991) ("To establish a prima facie case under Title VII, a plaintiff must show that he is within a protected class; subject to an adverse employment action; qualified for the job; and replaced by a person outside the protected class."). But see Bienkowski v. American Airlines, Inc., 851 F.2d 1503, 1506 (5th Cir.1988) (though "a prima facie case of age discrimination can be constructed where the plaintiff was replaced by a younger worker even if the younger worker is himself within the protected class," the plaintiff must show "that he was replaced by a worker sufficiently younger in the context of his employment to permit an inference of age discrimination"); Maxfield v. Sinclair Int'l, 766 F.2d 788, 792 (3d Cir.1985) ("[n]o case holds that an ADEA plaintiff can recover only if s/he was replaced by someone younger than 40, and there is no reason to engraft the requirement on to the law"), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1057, 106 S.Ct. 796, 88 L.Ed.2d 773 (1986).

If a plaintiff successfully proves a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer to "articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the employee's discharge." McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 1824, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973). "Once the employer carries this burden, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence 'that the legitimate reasons offered by the employer were not its true reasons, but were a pretext for discrimination.' " Ang v. Procter & Gamble Co., 932 F.2d at 548 (quoting Texas Dep't of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253, 101 S.Ct. 1089, 1093, 67 L.Ed.2d 207 (1981)).

LaPointe resigned as the Health and Safety Representative on January 1, 1990, at age 51. On July 5, 1990, defendant-appellee Thompson assumed the Health and Safety Representative position at age 43. On July 1, 1991, Dan Courtney was appointed Health and Safety Representative at age 44. Because the undisputed facts reveal that LaPointe was replaced by individuals within the protected age group, LaPointe cannot establish a prima facie case of age discrimination under established Sixth Circuit precedent. See generally United States v. Warren, 973 F.2d 1304, 1309 (6th Cir.1992) ("One panel of this court cannot overrule the decision of a prior panel of this court.").

LaPointe argues, however, that it was not necessary for him to establish a prima facie case because he offered direct evidence of age discrimination. "Direct evidence of discrimination allows a plaintiff to proceed without meeting the requirements of a prima facie case set forth in McDonnell Douglas." Ang v. Procter & Gamble Co., 932 F.2d at 549; see also Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. Thurston, 469 U.S. 111, 121, 105 S.Ct. 613, 621-622, 83 L.Ed.2d 523 (1985) ("[T]he McDonnell Douglas test is inapplicable where the plaintiff presents direct evidence of discrimination."). In support of his assertion, LaPointe argues that:

he] was told at various times that Mr. Thompson was going to get the older employees out. Mr. Wheeler went through the same experience with Mr. Thompson. Apparently, Wheeler was forced out and replaced by LaPointe temporarily, only so Thompson could reserve...

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    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • January 21, 2000
    ...fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c); LaPointe v. United Autoworkers Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir.1993). Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are ju......
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    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
    • October 17, 2001
    ...S.Ct. 2505; University of Cincinnati v. Arkwright Mut. Ins. Co., 51 F.3d 1277, Page 736 1280 (6th Cir.1995); LaPointe v. UAW, Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th II. Facts Plaintiff, who is an African American female, was hired by CVS as a cashier for the company's Brainerd store on March 31, 1......
  • Buckeye Com. Hope Found. v. City of Cuyahoga Falls, No. 5:96 CV 1458.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • June 20, 1997
    ..."is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." LaPointe v. United Autoworkers Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir.1993) (citations omitted). With this standard in mind, the Court will address the Defendants' present III. Res Judicata. All Defendant......
  • Emerson Elec. Co. v. Spartan Tool, LLC, No. 1:00CV350.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • May 3, 2002
    ...Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (citing); see also LaPointe v. United Autoworkers Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir.1993). The burden of showing the absence of any such genuine issues of material facts rests with the moving [A] party seeking s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
522 cases
  • Communities for Equity v. Michigan High Sch. Athl., No. 1:98-CV-479.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • January 21, 2000
    ...fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c); LaPointe v. United Autoworkers Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir.1993). Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are ju......
  • Richardson v. Cvs Corp., No. 1:00-CV-361.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Eastern District of Tennessee
    • October 17, 2001
    ...S.Ct. 2505; University of Cincinnati v. Arkwright Mut. Ins. Co., 51 F.3d 1277, Page 736 1280 (6th Cir.1995); LaPointe v. UAW, Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th II. Facts Plaintiff, who is an African American female, was hired by CVS as a cashier for the company's Brainerd store on March 31, 1......
  • Buckeye Com. Hope Found. v. City of Cuyahoga Falls, No. 5:96 CV 1458.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • June 20, 1997
    ..."is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted." LaPointe v. United Autoworkers Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir.1993) (citations omitted). With this standard in mind, the Court will address the Defendants' present III. Res Judicata. All Defendant......
  • Emerson Elec. Co. v. Spartan Tool, LLC, No. 1:00CV350.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • May 3, 2002
    ...Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) (citing); see also LaPointe v. United Autoworkers Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir.1993). The burden of showing the absence of any such genuine issues of material facts rests with the moving [A] party seeking s......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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