United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
ORDER & OPINION
BILLY McDADE United States Senior District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. 15). For the reasons explained below,
Defendant's Motion is granted and the case is dismissed.
began working for Defendant's plant in Normal, Illinois
on February 6, 1989. In July 2015, Defendant announced that
its Normal Plant would be closing. The majority of the
plant's operations would cease in November 2015 and the
plant would be closed by May 2016. Defendant entered into
negotiations with International Union, United Automobile,
Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, and
its local affiliated Local Union 2488 (“UAW”).
Plaintiff was a member of UAW at all relevant times.
and UAW entered into two agreements to govern the severance
packages provided to employees. The first was the
“Separation Agreement and Release for Associates”
(“Release”). (Doc. 16-4). The Release was an
eight page document intended to be the “complete
resolution of any and all disagreements, disputes or claims
arising out of Employee's employment and separation of
that employment, except for those claims that are expressly
preserved. . . .” (Doc. 16-4 at 1). The second was the
“Letter of Understanding Severance Package”
(“Letter”). (Doc. 16-3). The Letter was an eight
page document from Defendant to UAW that explained the
various severance benefits available to associates. (Doc.
Letter created eight bands of benefits, which consisted,
inter alia, of medical benefits, pension benefits, and a lump
sum payment. An employee's band for benefit purposes was
determined by a combination of the employee's age and
years of service for the Defendant. At the time of the
plant's closing, Plaintiff was fifty-six (56) years old
and had twenty-six (26) years of service for the Defendant.
This meant Plaintiff was eligible for the “A4”
severance package, which consisted of a lump sum payment of
$5, 000; access to an immediate, unreduced pension; sixteen
(16) months of medical and prescription drug benefits; and an
additional year of service and an additional year of age
added to Plaintiff for the purposes of determining his
exchange for the severance package, Plaintiff was required to
sign the Release. The Release detailed the lump sum payment
Plaintiff would receive and, in exchange, it would serve to
release any and all claims between Plaintiff and Defendant.
(Doc. 16-4). Plaintiff received the Letter and the Release on
October 15, 2015. Plaintiff had until November 29, 2015 to
sign the release. The Release allowed Plaintiff to revoke it
within seven days of its execution. Additionally, the Release
advised him to consult with an attorney. By signing the
Release, Plaintiff acknowledged that he had read the Release
carefully and understood its meaning and intent; that he had
had an opportunity to have the Release explained to him by
legal counsel and he understood the legal consequences; that
he agreed to the terms of the Release and was voluntarily
signing it; and that his only consideration for signing the
Release was what the Release stated and no other promises or
representations had been made to him.
signed the Release on November 25, 2015. He did not revoke
his acceptance. On November 30, 2015, Plaintiff's
employment with Defendant terminated. He received his $5, 000
lump sum payment. Additionally, he has begun collecting a
full, unreduced monthly pension of $1, 233. He would not have
otherwise been eligible for a full, unreduced monthly pension
until age 62.
filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunities
Commission (“EEOC”) and on December 7, 2015, the
EEOC dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint and issued him a
Notice of Right to Sue. (Doc. 1-2). On March 7, 2016,
Plaintiff brought this Complaint alleging age discrimination,
in violation of Section 4(a)(2) of the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”), as amended, 29
U.S.C. § 621 et seq. (Doc. 1 at 1).
25, 2016, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to
State a Claim. (Doc. 6). Defendant asserted that Plaintiff
had executed a waiver of his rights to bring an ADEA claim
and attached a copy of the Letter and the Release to the
motion. (Doc. 7 at 7). Plaintiff contended that his waiver
could not be considered knowing and voluntary, because it
does not meet statutory requirements for a knowing and
voluntary waiver. (Doc. 12 at 4-11).
the waiver issue required the Court to consider matters that
were outside of the pleadings, the Court converted the motion
to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment about the
waiver issue. (Doc. 14). On December 5, 2016, Defendant filed
a Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 56. (Doc. 15). On January 3, 2017, Plaintiff
filed his response to Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment. (Doc. 19).
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment shall be granted where “the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In ruling on a motion for summary
judgment, the Court must view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. SMS Demag
Aktiengesellschaft v. Material Scis. Corp., 565 F.3d
365, 368 (7th Cir. 2009). All inferences drawn from the facts
must be construed in favor of the non-movant. Moore v.
Vital Prods., Inc., 641 F.3d 253, 256 (7th Cir. 2011).
survive summary judgment, the “nonmovant must show
through specific evidence that a triable issue of fact
remains on issues on which he bears the burden of proof at
trial.” Warsco v. Preferred Tech. Grp., 258
F.3d 557, 563 (7th Cir. 2001) (citing Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986)). If the evidence on
record could not lead a reasonable jury to find for the
non-movant, then no genuine issue of material fact exists and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
See McClendon v. Ind. Sugars, Inc., 108 F.3d 789,
796 (7th Cir. 1997). At the summary judgment stage, the ...