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THOMAS v. ROHNER-GEHRIG & CO.

March 14, 1984

MICHAEL D. THOMAS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ROHNER-GEHRIG & CO., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Grady, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This is an employment discrimination class action*fn1 brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 1982 and 1985, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). The matter is now before the court on defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint or for summary judgment, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), 56.

FACTS

Plaintiffs are former employees of the corporate defendants, Rohner-Gehrig & Co., Inc. ("Rohner") and Panalpina Air Freight, Inc. ("Panalpina").*fn2 Panalpina was, until late 1982, a subsidiary of Rohner. Both corporations were engaged in the business of international freight forwarding, and apparently were Swiss-owned and incorporated in New York.*fn3 The ownership and structure of the corporations were identical. Affid. of H.D. Seidel, ¶ 2. According to plaintiffs, most or all of the corporate officers were Swiss or German.

In 1982 and 1983, defendants discharged several individuals, including the named plaintiffs. According to the complaint, the discharged individuals were all born in the United States, and were all replaced by individuals born in Switzerland or Germany. Plaintiffs assert that they were discharged because they were born in the United States rather than in Switzerland or Germany, and that the discharges therefore violated various anti-discrimination statutes. We will address the statutes individually.

DISCUSSION

42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1982

Plaintiffs first claim that the discharges violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and 1982.

These sections provide:

§ 1981. Equal rights under the law

    All persons within the jurisdiction of the United
  States shall have the same right in every State and
  Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be
  parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal
  benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security
  of persons and property as is enjoyed by white
  citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment,
  pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of
  every kind, and to no other.

§ 1982. Property rights of citizens

    All citizens of the United States shall have the
  same right, in every State and Territory, as is
  enjoyed by white citizens thereof to inherit,
  purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and
  personal property.

Defendants argue that plaintiffs' claims under the above sections do not state a cause of action on which relief can be granted. Defendants state that ยงยง 1981 and 1982 apply solely to claims of racial discrimination, and do not ...


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