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BEECK v. FEDERAL EXP. CORP.

January 4, 2000

RONALD BEECK, PLAINTIFF,
V.
FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Flannery, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM-OPINION

Plaintiff Ronald Beeck (hereinafter "Beeck" or "plaintiff") brought this action alleging two claims: age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq., and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff has more recently asserted that he also brings a claim of retaliation in violation of 29 U.S.C. § 623(d), although no such claim is presented in the complaint.

Presently pending before the Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment. In response to the motion, plaintiff withdrew his intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. The Court will therefore address only the discrimination and retaliation claims.

As to the discrimination claim, the Court finds that plaintiff has not alleged that defendant acted with the sort of discriminatory motive that is prohibited by the ADEA, and that the evidence in the record would not support such an allegation in any case. The Court finds that the retaliation claim is also invalid on the merits, assuming that the Court were to overlook the fact that the claim was not alleged in the complaint. Accordingly, summary judgment is granted as to all remaining claims.

I. Background

The Court views the record in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Currier v. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc., 159 F.3d 1363, 1364 n. 1 (D.C.Cir. 1998). This action arose out of plaintiff's demotion and transfer following the issuance of three "reminder" (i.e.disciplinary) letters by plaintiff's supervisors during the summer of 1995. Prior to that date, plaintiff had been employed by defendant Federal Express since 1982. In 1993, Douglas McKenna ("McKenna"), the Managing Director of the Eastern Region Air/Ground Terminals and Transportation, promoted plaintiff to the position of Senior Manager at the IAD station at Dulles Airport (hereinafter "Dulles") in Virginia. As Senior Manager, plaintiff was responsible for all Federal Express operations at Dulles, which included unloading express mail packages from incoming flights and transporting them by tractor-trailer to a "receiving station" responsible for final distribution.

At the time plaintiff began as Senior Manager, he reported to McKenna. However, around August of 1994, McKenna was himself promoted and Edward Kuczma ("Kuczma") replaced McKenna as Managing Director and plaintiff's immediate supervisor. In April of 1995. Kuczma asked plaintiff to promote twelve parties into higher paying positions without first posting the positions, in violation of company policy. Plaintiff refused to do so unless Kuczma put the request in writing. Kuczma replied that "if [plaintiff] didn't do it, he would give [plaintiff] a letter" for "failure to work as directed." Beeck January 15, 1999 Dep. (hereinafter "Beeck Dep. I") at 30, 31. After a "heated discussion," plaintiff still refused to comply unless the request was in writing because the violation of procedure was grounds for termination. Id. at 30, 32. Although Kuczma did not issue the threatened letter at that time, plaintiff observed that his relationship with Kuczma began deteriorating after that point, and that "[a]fter that it seems that they looked for everything they possibly could to try to get [him] in some type of discipline." Id. at 30.

On June 14, 1995, Kuczma issued a reminder letter to plaintiff holding him responsible for an incident in which a trailer full of express packages had been driven from Dulles to the receiving station in the District of Columbia (hereinafter the "DCA station") on a Friday and had sat there unloaded over the weekend. On August 2, 1995, Kuczma issued plaintiff a second reminder letter, alleging that plaintiff had not fulfilled his responsibility to chair the meetings of the "CORE Team," a cross-divisional group meeting to improve service within the area and over which the Senior Manager was chairperson.

On August 30, 1995, John M. O'Donovan ("O'Donovan"), who had replaced Kuczma as Managing Director on August 1, 1995, issued plaintiff a third reminder letter after the Federal Express station at Dulles had failed a government ramp audit. The next day, O'Donovan demoted Beeck, allegedly for unacceptable performance. Plaintiff, who had recently turned 55 years old, was replaced as Senior Manager at Dulles by Parker Edson ("Edson"), who was 51. Following the demotion, plaintiff was given the option of resigning or accepting a transfer to the DCA station as a Ramp Operations Manager. On September 6, 1995, plaintiff accepted the transfer although the position required a much longer commute than his former job at Dulles.

On February 8, 1996, plaintiff requested that he be transferred back to Dulles to work as an Operations Manager. This request was denied. However, plaintiff was subsequently transferred to defendant's facility in Baltimore, Maryland, a roughly 150-mile commute. Later, plaintiff was transferred again, this time to a facility in Florida where he was still employed at the commencement of this action.

Plaintiff alleges that the reminder letters were a pretext, and that in each case, the alleged problem was either not attributable to plaintiff or else was wholly a fabrication. Plaintiff further alleges that the demotion, the subsequent transfers to locations requiring long commutes and the denials of plaintiff's requests for transfer to a more convenient position all constituted a single coordinated effort to induce plaintiff to accept voluntary resignation.

II. Discussion

A. Standard of Review

Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, a party may move for summary judgment if the record indicates that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Material facts are those which "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). To avoid summary judgment, the non-moving party must demonstrate that a genuine dispute exists, and provide evidence sufficient for a reasonable trier-of-fact to return a verdict for that party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. A court making a summary judgment determination must view the facts in a light most favorable to the non-movant, giving the non-movant the benefit of all reasonable ...


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