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SHEKERJIAN v. PYRAMID MOULDINGS

September 3, 1998

Ara Shekerjian, Plaintiff,
v.
Pyramid Mouldings, Inc., Erwin Walz, Thomas Bartel and Richard Hopp, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NORGLE

OPINION AND ORDER

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Plaintiff Ara Shekerjian ("Shekerjian") filed the instant suit against Defendant Pyramid Mouldings, Inc. ("Pyramid"), alleging age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 623, 631. Additionally, Shekerjian claims that Pyramid employees Erwin Walz, Thomas Bartel and Richard Hopp tortiously interfered with his business relations. Each defendant now moves for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Pyramid's motion is granted. Because the court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Shekerjian's state law claim, the remaining Defendants' motion for summary judgment is denied as moot.

 I. BACKGROUND *fn1"

 Pyramid is a custom molding manufacturer. In May 1990, Pyramid hired Shekerjian as a "Tool & Die" worker. Shekerjian was sixty-one years old at the time.

 From May 1991 through March 1995, Shekerjian had several disciplinary and work-related problems at Pyramid. For instance:

 
. Shekerjian repeatedly complained to Pyramid that it had broken its promise to promote him shortly after his hire.
 
. Pyramid issued Shekerjian two disciplinary warnings.
 
. Pyramid cited areas in which Shekerjian needed to improve in three performance evaluations.
 
. Pyramid's employee relations manager, Thomas Bartel ("Bartel"), told Shekerjian during a heated discussion that he had a poor attitude.
 
. In July 1994, Teamsters Local 714, of which Shekerjian was a member and negotiator, recommended to its members that they accept Pyramid's final offer for a new employment contract. Shekerjian, however, disagreed and spoke out against accepting the new contract.

 Pyramid's problems with Shekerjian continued. In February 1995, Shekerjian met with Bartel, Pyramid's plant manager, Richard Hopp ("Hopp"), Shekerjian's supervisor, Rocky Sandal and Shekerjian's Union Steward Ralph Van Etten. During the meeting, Shekerjian was told to stop being disruptive for, inter alia, writing a twelve page letter to Pyramid's president complaining about management. In his letter, Shekerjian stated: 1) that his former supervisor, Nick Patitucci ("Patitucci"), was a phony and a fraud; 2) that "raises, promotions and upgrades . . . in the tool room were given to favorites, stool pigeons, informers and were not based on skill, ability or education [but] based only on whims, fantasies and personal preferences of individual foreman, supervisors and managers;" and 3) that Bartel, Hopp, Walz and Patitucci were a "god awful combination." (Shekerjian's Resp., Ex. 2, Attach. D-7.) Shekerjian responded by demanding a promotion.

 Less than three weeks after the meeting, Hopp discovered three cartoon drawings posted on a tool room door. One cartoon depicted a form of a swastika with the arms pointing counterclockwise and the expressions, "Welcome To Stalag 17" and "CoL. KLINK." The second cartoon depicted a World War II character by the name of Kilroy peeking over a wall with the expression, "Gosh? Is This A Job Shop?" The third cartoon featured a form of a swastika, again with the arms pointing counterclockwise, and the expressions, "WELCOME TO STALAG 17" and "CoL. KLINK COMMANDING OFFICER." Hopp, believing Shekerjian authored the cartoons, confronted him. Though Shekerjian denied knowledge of the cartoons, he was suspended.

 During Shekerjian's suspension, a board certified "Forensic Document Examiner" reviewed the cartoons and several of Shekerjian's handwriting samples. The expert opined that Shekerjian authored the cartoons. At this point, Pyramid offered to allow Shekerjian to return to work if he signed a letter promising to cease disruptive conduct and comply with Pyramid's work rules. Shekerjian rejected Pyramid's offer because he felt that acceptance would have forced him to admit breaking rules which he did not break. Pyramid then terminated Shekerjian for violating its "No Harassment Policy" and ...


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