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SEEHAWER v. MAGNECRAFT ELEC. CO.

January 24, 1989

MARY SEEHAWER, Plaintiff,
v.
MAGNECRAFT ELECTRIC COMPANY and JAMES A. STEINBACK, Defendants


Marvin E. Aspen, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

MARVIN E. ASPEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE:

 Plaintiff Mary Seehawer brings this three-count action charging defendants Magnecraft Electric Co. ("Magnecraft") and James A. Steinback, Magnecraft's president, with breach of contract and violations of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1 et seq. Seehawer moves to strike four affirmative defenses. Defendants move to dismiss or, alternatively, for summary judgment on the breach of contract claim. For the reasons set forth below, we grant in part Seehawer's motion to strike and grant in part defendants' motion for summary judgment.

 I. Factual Background *fn1"

 On March 6, 1967, Magnecraft hired Seehawer to fill the position of executive secretary. In or about 1977, she became Steinback's personal secretary. In late 1981 or early 1982, Magnecraft issued an employee handbook entitled a Manual of General Policy and Rules ("Manual") which provided in pertinent part:

 
To avoid misunderstanding, disagreements and grievances, the following rules, regulations and policies are hereby stated for Magnecraft Electric Company, eligible employees, Chicago, Illinois. Art. I, § 1.
 
* * * *
 
There shall be no discrimination in interviewing, or hiring of applicants for employment and no discrimination against employees during and after the trial period of employment because of color, race, sex, marital status, age, craft, emotional or handicapped, religious or political beliefs. Art. III, § 1.
 
Guarantees against discrimination shall in addition apply to promotion, apprenticeship, job training, shift assignment, layoffs, rehires, transfers, and discharge. Art. III, § 2.

 Additionally, the Manual limited Magnecraft's power to terminate its employees:

 
Employees shall be discharged or disciplined only for just cause. Art. XXV, § 2.

 Finally, the Manual established a grievance procedure for handling employee-management disputes. Art. XXVI, §§ 1, 2. The Manual contained the signatures of Steinback and F. E. Splitt, a vice-president.

 On January 12, 1982, Seehawer signed an Employee Statement which, despite the Manual provision to the contrary, suggested that Magnecraft enjoyed unlimited discretion to terminate its employees:

 
In consideration of my employment, I agree to conform to the rules, regulations and policies of Magnecraft Electric Company, and my employment and compensation can be terminated, with or without cause and notice, at any time, at the option of the Company or myself. I understand that no manager or representative of Magnecraft Electric Company, other than the president or vice president . . . has the authority to enter into any agreement for employment for any specified period of time, or to make any agreement contrary to the foregoing.

 It appears from other text in the Statement that Seehawer received the Manual at the same time. *f ...


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