Tucker v. United Parcel Service

Decision Date28 September 1981
Docket NumberNo. 80-7447,80-7447
Parties27 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 117, 27 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 32,173 David TUCKER and William Earl Johnson, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, et al., Defendants-Appellees. . Unit B
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

Robert L. Wiggins, Jr., Birmingham, Ala., for plaintiffs-appellants.

Bradley, Arant, Rose & White, James P. Alexander, Robert K. Spotswood, Birmingham, Ala., for defendants-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Before GODBOLD, Chief Judge, and TJOFLAT and THOMAS A. CLARK, Circuit Judges.

GODBOLD, Chief Judge:

In this Title VII suit the district court, after a hearing focusing on the timeliness of the plaintiffs' EEOC charges, held the plaintiffs' charges untimely filed. 1 Earlier, after hearing, the court had declined to certify as a class the group of employees whom the plaintiffs sought to represent. We affirm the ruling on the class action and reverse on the timeliness issue.

United Parcel Service's Birmingham South facility hired plaintiffs Tucker and Johnson, who are black, as package car drivers to assist with peak season deliveries during the 1975 Christmas period. Of the 23 seasonal package car drivers hired for that period 19 were white and four black. UPS hired Christmas seasonal drivers on a temporary basis and generally dismissed them at the end of the Christmas season. Although the seasonal drivers had no contractual right to recall, UPS had a practice of retaining or recalling seasonal drivers who had impressed the company as desirable workers, if enough work developed after the peak season to require additional help.

The plaintiffs' last day of seasonal work was December 23, 1975. They were not told at that time that they were ineligible for reemployment or recall, and indeed thereafter (up to a time that the court determined to be January 2) were led to believe they might be recalled, depending upon the work requirements of the company.

After plaintiffs and other seasonals were dismissed in late December UPS retained five of the seasonal drivers, all whites, to continue working. Subsequently, from January 20 through February 17, UPS reemployed six of the white seasonal drivers it had previously dismissed. On March 1 it reemployed a black seasonal. On March 3 it reemployed another white.

Johnson filed an EEOC charge July 9, 1976, alleging that UPS had refused to recall him to work because of his race. The charge listed the discrimination as "continuing" in nature. Tucker filed a similar charge July 12. The district court, in oral findings, held that these charges had not been filed within the 180 day filing period under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e) because plaintiffs, on January 2, were aware that they were not going to be recalled.

In this situation, I conclude that there was an awareness that they were not going to be recalled by January 2, 1976 and that this event triggered the running of the hundred and eighty day period within which a discrimination charge could finally be filed, whether or not they had evidence at that time to support a belief, suspicion, or hunch that racial discrimination might be involved.

In this connection it is perhaps of some interest, although not critical to the Court's decision, that the Plaintiffs themselves recognize that as black employees of UPS of a seasonal nature, they were not common in terms of what the apparent general practice was, and to some degree, if there was a question about when one might reasonably have been, have had inquiry, or concern about discrimination, one may surmise that that might have reasonably occurred at the time they were told that they would no longer be eligible for recall, and should certainly be seeking other work.

In Reeb v. Economic Opportunity Atlanta, Inc., 516 F.2d 924 (5th Cir.1975), we held that the sufficiency of facts to trigger the charge-filing period may be measured subjectively or objectively, i. e.: the charge-filing period does not begin to run "until the facts that would support a charge of discrimination under Title VII were apparent or should have been apparent to a person with a reasonably prudent regard for his rights similarly situated to the plaintiff." See also Oaxaca v. Roscoe, 641 F.2d 386 (5th Cir.1981); Nilsen v. City of Moss Point, 621 F.2d 117, 121 (5th Cir.1980); Chappell v. EMCO Machine Works Co., 601 F.2d 1295, 1303 (5th Cir.1979); Bickham v. Miller, 584 F.2d 736 (5th Cir.1978). Applying this test, the district court in this case found that the fact apparent to plaintiffs was their awareness on January 2 that they would not be recalled, and that this triggered the 180 days "whether or not they had evidence at that time to support a belief, suspicion, or hunch that racial discrimination might be involved." If the court meant by this that it would be apparent to any seasonal employee who is told that he is not going to be recalled that racial discrimination is involved, we disagree. Recall of a seasonal employee may depend upon many factors. The most significant one is, of course, whether when the bulge of seasonal business is over the volume of business supports a need for the employee. Also, of course, notice to a seasonal that he will not be recalled may be given because his performance has not been satisfactory. 2

If the court meant that when any black seasonal employee is notified that he will not be recalled it would be apparent to him that the situation supports a charge of racial discrimination, we disagree. The "prudent person" requirement of Reeb is not triggered by a seasonal black employee's being notified of an otherwise unexceptional decision that he is not going to be recalled. It would be anomalous indeed if persons protected by the statute from racial discrimination are required to presume that they are being...

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21 cases
  • Baruah v. Young, Civ. A. No. M-81-1346.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • March 24, 1982
    ...his termination. Wilkerson v. Seigfried Insurance Agency, Inc., 621 F.2d 1042, 1045 (10th Cir. 1980). See Tucker v. United Parcel Service, 657 F.2d 724, 726-27 (5th Cir. 1981). Whether the application of equitable tolling is warranted in this case cannot be resolved at this juncture. In mos......
  • Miller v. Aluminum Co. of America, Civ. A. No. 84-2856.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • February 8, 1988
    ...Additionally, some courts have imported a discovery rule into Title VII's time requirements. See, e.g., Tucker v. United Parcel Service, 657 F.2d 724 (5th Cir.1981); Bey v. Schneider Sheet Metal, Inc., 596 F.Supp. 319, 322 (W.D.Pa.1984). Under this theory, the filing period does not begin t......
  • Mormann v. Iowa Workforce Dev., 16-1333
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 15, 2018
    ...the district court improperly granted the employer summary judgment on the facts presented. Id. ; see also Tucker v. United Parcel Serv. , 657 F.2d 724, 727 (5th Cir. 1981) (holding tolling applies when black seasonal employees were told that they would not be recalled, but employer recalle......
  • Villarreal v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 15-10602
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • October 5, 2016
    ...of their very nature.” 516 F.2d at 931. Beyond that, any question about whether Reeb requires deception was resolved in Tucker v. UPS, 657 F.2d 724 (5th Cir.1981). The Tucker plaintiffs filed an EEOC charge more than 180 days after they were fired but less than 180 days after they learned t......
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