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ARADO v. GENERAL FIRE EXTINGUISHER CORP.

August 7, 1985

AUGUST ARADO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GENERAL FIRE EXTINGUISHER CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

August Arado ("Arado") charges General Fire Extinguisher Corporation ("General") terminated him in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621-634. In addition to that Count I cause of action (captioned "Age Discrimination Claim"), Arado's Complaint asserts two unlabeled claims (Counts II and III), each of which realleges (via incorporation by reference) all of Count I's 17 paragraphs of allegations. General now moves under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56 for "partial" summary judgment as to Complaint Counts II and III and portions of the prayer for relief in Count I. For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

Facts*fn1

Complaint Count I ¶ 9 alleges General's President Harry Haulman ("Haulman") had announced in the summer of 1983 he was planning a "youth movement" at General because he was dissatisfied with the performance of older employees.*fn2 Haulman's strategy was to harass older workers into resigning by either demoting them or adding significantly to their workloads (id. ¶ 3). Arado asserts he was given the work of two other employees in addition to his own normal full-time duties (Arado Deposition ("Dep.") 48-50, 70).

Arado met twice with Haulman in mid-August 1983 to explain the new duties were impossibly burdensome and plead for assistance in carrying them out (Dep. 49-57). Each time Haulman refused to lighten Arado's load (Dep. 50, 56). At the first meeting Haulman told Arado to "quit, quit, quit, quit" if he could not perform all the functions (Dep. 50), and at the second meeting Haulman threatened Arado with termination if Arado did not take on the new duties within a week (Dep. 57).

In mid-September the dispute between Arado and Haulman intensified when Arado took a vacation without making arrangements for anyone to cover his duties (Dep. 75-76). Finally, on October 4 Haulman told Arado "this couldn't go on any longer" and terminated him, giving Arado his remaining vacation pay and four weeks' severance pay (Dep. 80). Haulman also asked Arado whether Arado wanted a letter of recommendation (id.). Arado responded affirmatively and Haulman returned 15-20 minutes later with the letter (Dep. 80-81), which read:

To Whom It May Concern:

  August Arado has worked with me for the past twelve
  years. During that time, he has been Treasurer of the
  company for the past five years. Unfortunately,
  through cutbacks caused by present economic
  conditions, we have had to eliminate his position.
  I would particularly recommend Arado in the Cost
  field, Inventory Control, and Lifo accounting. I
  doubt if you will find anyone to match his expertise
  in these fields.

Arado's Claims

Complaint Count I charges Arado was fired because of his age, in violation of ADEA. It prays for actual, compensatory, consequential and liquidated damages as well as attorneys' fees. Count II charges General's award of only four weeks' severance pay to Arado was an "intentional and willful" violation of General's "standard practice" of awarding at least one week's pay for each year of employment. Count III charges Haulman's letter of recommendation is actually more harmful than helpful to Arado, so that Arado has not been able to use it and has suffered a "loss of his business reputation."

General's Motion

General seeks summary judgment as to Counts II and III. It also asks for what it terms a "partial" summary judgment as to Count I's prayers for ...


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