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Bader v. United Airlines, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 9, 2015

DOUGLAS BADER, CHARLES DOYLE, and RALPH J. RINA, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED AIRLINES, INC., UNITED CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS, INC., Defendants

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For Douglas Bader, Charles Doyle, Ralph J Rina, Plaintiffs: Kathy Dianne Bailey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Bailey Law, Pc, Alexandria, VA; David A. Axelrod, David A. Axelrod & Associates P.C., Chicago, IL.

For United Airlines, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of United Continental Holdings, Inc., Defendant: Gary S. Kaplan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ada W. Dolph, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, Chicago, IL.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HON. JORGE L. ALONSO, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs, Douglas Bader, Charles Doyle, and Ralph Rina, have brought this

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action against defendants, United Airlines, Inc. and its parent company, United Continental Holdings, Inc. (collectively, " United" ), making claims of age discrimination and retaliation under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (" ADEA" ), age discrimination under civil rights statutes of the plaintiffs' respective states, wrongful discharge, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and interference with prospective economic advantage. United has moved to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), contending that the plaintiffs' claims are precluded, preempted or legally insufficient. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs were all Pilot Instructor/Evaluators (" I/Es" ) at Continental Airlines (" Continental" ) when Continental merged with United. United's longstanding practice, contrary to Continental's, is to require all I/Es to be " line-qualified," i.e., to be qualified to fly a revenue-producing flight carrying paying passengers. Federal Aviation Administration (" FAA" ) regulations require all line-qualified pilots to be under the age of 65.

After the merger, United and the Airline Pilots Association, International, plaintiffs' union, negotiated a collective bargaining agreement, the United Pilots Agreement (" UPA" ). The UPA, consistently with United's pre-merger practice, required all I/Es to be line-qualified. United and ALPA implemented the line-qualification requirement via Letter of Agreement 18 (Compl. Ex. A), which effectively terminated I/Es such as the plaintiffs, who had reached the FAA mandatory retirement age, after a 12-month grace period.

Plaintiffs contend that United's requirement that all I/Es be line-qualified is totally arbitrary and age-discriminatory. United now moves to dismiss on various grounds.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

" A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) tests whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be granted." Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635, 637 (7th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must " give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (ellipsis omitted).

Under federal notice-pleading standards, a plaintiff's " [f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. Stated differently, " a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). " A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). " In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, [courts must] accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true, but [they] 'need[ ] not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.'" Alam v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013)

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(quoting Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009)).

III. ANALYSIS

A. Preemption and Preclusion By Fair Treatment of Experienced ...


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