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FORTINO v. QUASAR CO.

December 7, 1990

JOHN FORTINO, CARL MEYERS, F. WILLIAM SCHULZ and SOPHIE MUSTACHIO, Plaintiffs,
v.
QUASAR COMPANY, a division of Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, Defendant


James H. Alesia, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA

JAMES A. ALESIA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This employment discrimination case is before the court for a decision on the merits with respect to Plaintiffs' John Fortino ("Fortino"), Carl Meyers ("Meyers") and F. William Schulz ("Schulz") Title VII claims. Plaintiffs Fortino, Meyers, Schulz and Sophie Mustachio ("Mustachio") originally filed this action alleging that defendant Quasar Company discriminated against them on the basis of their age in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 631 et seq., and their national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. ("Title VII"). The court heard the plaintiffs' age claims and the national origin claims were simultaneously tried to a jury. Prior to the start of the trial, Mustachio voluntarily dismissed her Title VII national original claim. With respect to the age discrimination claims, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Fortino, Meyers and Schulz and against Quasar and awarded damages in the amount of $ 1,949,980, representing award of back and front pay. The jury also found that Quasar willfully violated the ADEA and the court doubled the jury's back pay award and awarded liquidated damages in the amount of $ 467,650. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Quasar and against Mustachio on her claim of age discrimination. Certain portions of the testimony and evidence presented at the trial before the jury related to both actions. Trial testimony and evidence strictly related to the Title VII national original claim was presented outside the presence of the jury.

 After hearing testimony, reviewing the trial transcripts and exhibits in their entirety, and examining the credible evidence of record, the court enters judgment in favor of plaintiffs Fortino, Meyers and Schulz and against Quasar Company with respect to the Title VII claims. The court also denies the plaintiffs' motion for prejudgment interest. Defendant's motion to amend the judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

 I. FINDINGS OF FACTS

 A. The Parties

 2. In 1974, Quasar became a separate division within Matsushita when Matsushita purchased certain assets of Motorola Company, which was located in Franklin Park, Illinois. In the late 1970s, Quasar's operations were divided between two Matsushita divisions -- Quasar and Matsushita Industrial Company. Matsushita's other divisions include the Panasonic Company and Technics. From 1974 through at least July, 1986, Quasar maintained its headquarters and principal place of business at the Franklin Park location.

 3. Quasar does not manufacture the products it sells. It purchases consumer electronics goods manufactured by MEI divisions and affiliates located in Japan, Singapore and the United States, and resells these products in the United States. These products include black and white and color televisions, video cassette recorders, audio equipment, microwave ovens, air-conditioning units and other home appliances.

 4. At the time of the trial in this action, the chief operating officers of Quasar were Jack Pluckhan ("Pluckhan"), its president, and Kenichi Nishikawa ("Nishikawa"), its executive vice-president. Nishikawa is Japanese. Nishikawa rose through the ranks of MEI in Japan, and was sent to Quasar by MEI in March, 1986. Prior to February, 1987, Pluckhan reported to Kiyoshi Seki ("Seki"), then President of Matsushita. Since then, Pluckhan has reported to Akira Imura ("Imura"), Seki's successor as Matsushita's president. William Schupp ("Schupp") is the chief personnel officer at Quasar.

 5. John Fortino ("Fortino") is a native-born American citizen. Fortino was born on March 2, 1930. On the date of his discharge by Quasar, Fortino was 56 years old.

 6. In 1958, Fortino joined Zenith in its sales training department. Fortino became Zenith's Regional Sales Manager for its mid-south zone. In that capacity, Fortino supervised the sale of all of Zenith's electronics products and oversaw the independent distributors in his zone. Fortino was a Zenith regional sales manager for 13 years.

 7. On July 1, 1976, Fortino left Zenith to work for Quasar. Fortino's first position at Quasar was Director of Sales for its western zone. In that position, Fortino's responsibilities included supervising all sales operations in the twenty-five state western zone, including sales operations of the independent distributors. Five regional sales managers reported to Fortino.

 8. In March, 1979, Quasar promoted Fortino to the position of Manager of Sales Promotions and Training Department. Fortino's duties included coordinating all promotional materials used by Quasar in the field, producing Quasar's press releases and creating and disseminating information concerning Quasar's new products. Subsequently, Quasar promoted Fortino to the position of Assistant General Manager of Advertising, Sales Promotions and Public Relations Department. Between 1980 and 1985, Fortino supervised all advertising, public relations and sales promotions functions of Quasar.

 9. During the entire ten years that Fortino worked for Quasar, Fortino received favorable performance reviews, was promoted regularly and received significant salary increases. Both Robert Wiles ("Wiles") and Tony Mirabelli ("Mirabelli"), two of Fortino's supervisors, testified, without contradiction, that Fortino was an excellent employee. Fortino's department received awards for outstanding performance.

 10. Fortino does not speak Japanese. Fortino often spoke to the Japanese management people employed by Quasar in English. As part of his duties with Quasar, Fortino visited Japan annually. During these annual visits, Fortino visited the factories and corporate headquarters in Japan, and met with MEI's Japanese advertising people. All of the MEI people with whom Fortino met spoke English.

 12. On August 31, 1977, Quasar employed Meyers as a Regional Sales Manager. In that capacity, Meyers assumed sales responsibilities for all of Quasar's electronics goods in his region. Meyers also trained distributors in the sales of Quasar's products. In his first fifteen months with Quasar, Meyers received first place in a Quasar quarterly sales contest and second place in another quarterly sales contest. Meyers also was the chief communications link between MEI's factories and Quasar's independent distributors. Two of his superiors, Wiles and Fortino, testified, without contradiction, that Meyers was an excellent employee.

 13. In 1980, Quasar promoted Meyers to Manager of Sales Administration. In that capacity, Meyers coordinated all of Quasar's sales materials and pricing information. Meyers reported to Quasar's General Sales Manager. Like Fortino, Meyers received steady raises while employed by Quasar.

 14. With the exception of one evaluation period, Meyers received good evaluations. With respect to the evaluation which was below standard, Meyers testified that it was a reflection of personality conflict with Alan Walters, Meyers' supervisor at that time. Quasar did not contradict Meyer's testimony on this point. This court finds that Meyers met Quasar's standards as an employee and that his performance was not a basis for his termination.

 15. F. William Schulz ("Schulz") is a native-born American citizen. Schulz was born on November 11, 1934. On July 31, 1986, the date of his discharge by Quasar, Schulz was 51 years old.

 16. Upon graduation from college in 1957, Schulz was employed at Motorola Corporation, Quasar's predecessor, at its Franklin Park facility. From the time Schulz began his employment with Motorola until 1970, Schulz held a number of different positions in the Market Research Department of Motorola. Schulz' duties included market research, market forecasting, new product development and work with the field sales force. Schulz progressed to Assistant Manager of the Marketing Department of Motorola and supervised a number of employees.

 17. In 1970, Motorola promoted Schulz to the position of head of the Order Administration Department. Essentially, Schulz supervised the in-house sales staff and acted as a liaison between the sales staff and the warehouse department.

 18. After Matsushita purchased the Consumer Electronics Division of Motorola in 1974 and renamed it Quasar, Schulz retained his position as head of the Order Administration Department. In addition, Schulz began to assume responsibilities for supervising Quasar's warehousing, inventory control, domestic traffic and fleet operation functions. At this juncture of his career, Schulz supervised forty-five employees in Franklin Park, eighteen in Quincy, eight in the Service Department and four in the Traffic Department.

 19. In 1978, Quasar changed Schulz' title to National Manager of Physical Distribution. Schulz continued to supervise five Quasar departments, along with approximately 80 employees including five department managers. Schulz prepared the budgets for all five departments. Schulz remained in this position until Quasar discharged him in June, 1986.

 20. Like Fortino and Meyers, Schulz received good performance evaluations, regular promotions and steady pay raises.

 B. The Reorganization of Quasar

 21. In 1985, Quasar suffered operating losses of approximately $ 20 million dollars. As a result, MEI sent Nishikawa to Quasar as its executive vice-president, to make Quasar a profitable division of Matsushita. Nishikawa's appointment as executive vice-president of Quasar and the reorganization of Quasar were discussed by Seki, Matsushita's president and Mr. Tami, MEI's president.

 23. During the fourth quarter of 1985 and the first and second quarters of 1986, MEI planned the reorganization of Quasar. During this time, Japanese officers of MEI held discussions with various Japanese officers of Quasar. As a result of these discussions, MEI also decided to reorganize Quasar's method of product distribution.

 24. After returning from Japan, Nishikawa arrived at Quasar in March, 1986. Nishikawa immediately met with all of Quasar's managerial employees of Japanese national origin and discussed with them a reorganization of Quasar, which included reducing Quasar's work force by approximately 50% ("the reduction in force or RIF"). Nishikawa continued to meet with Quasar's managerial employees of Japanese national origin concerning the reorganization throughout the reorganization, which was concluded in December, 1986. All non-Japanese members of Quasar's management were excluded from these meetings. With the exception of Schupp and Pluckhan, Nishikawa excluded Quasar's managerial employees of American national origin entirely from the decision-making process regarding Quasar's operations and the impending reorganization. During the reorganization, Nishikawa issued unilateral directives to the Quasar employees of American national origin concerning the operations of Quasar.

 25. The reorganization began in May, 1986, and was substantially completed by December, 1986. Also, in 1986, in connection with the reorganization, Quasar moved its headquarters and plant ...


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