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NATH v. GE

September 15, 1977

RAVINDRA NATH
v.
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, SWITCHGEAR DIVISION



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HUYETT

 HUYETT, J.

 Following a non-jury trial concluded on August 25, 1977, we make the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a).

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiff Ravindra Nath is an Asian-Indian and a citizen of India. His race or color is brown. He is a resident immigrant in the United States.

 2. Defendant General Electric Company (G.E.) is a corporation and its Switchgear Equipment Business Division is located at 6901 Elmwood Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. Defendant is engaged in business in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and is an employer within the meaning of ยง 701(b) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At all relevant times it has had fifteen or more employees working for twenty or more calendar weeks, and it has been engaged in an industry affecting interstate commerce.

 3. Plaintiff attended secondary school, one year of pre-college, and two years of college at St. John's College, Agra, India. In 1962 he was selected on the basis of a written competition to transfer to engineering school at the University of Roorkee, from which he graduated in 1967 with a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering with specialization in electronics. Upon graduation he received his school's highest award for design.

 4. Upon graduation from the University of Roorkee, plaintiff obtained a job in the Controls and Instrumentation Laboratory of the U.P. State Electrical Board. After three (3) months, he left this job and obtained a job with Philips, India, Ltd., a subsidiary of Philips M.V. of the Netherlands where he remained for one (1) year after which he worked for eight (8) months for Telefunken, Ltd., before moving to the United States.

 5. Plaintiff came to the United States in July, 1970. After several months he obtained a job as a salesperson with George Jensen, a retail store in New York.

 6. In May, 1971 plaintiff was hired by Phoenix Steel Corporation as an Electrical Maintenance Supervisor, supervising electronics technicians, electricians and helpers who were employed in the maintenance of large electrical motors. Plaintiff remained at Phoenix Steel for approximately two and one-half (2 1/2) years. On November 11, 1973, plaintiff left his position at Phoenix Steel to take a position with defendant.

 7. Plaintiff was employed by G.E. as a Design Engineer in the Product Engineering Subsection of the Engineering Section of the Power Systems Management Business Department (PSMBD), Switchgear Equipment Business Division, from November 12, 1973 to November 15, 1974.

 8. On or about October 29, 1973, plaintiff was interviewed for employment by Leonard Scharf, manager of the Product Engineering Subsection of the Engineering Section of PSMBD, and Ernest Stagliano, manager of the component relay unit of the Product Engineering Subsection.

 9. Plaintiff was given an offer of employment by Mr. Scharf on October 29, 1973. Plaintiff accepted the offer, and on November 12, 1973 plaintiff commenced his employment with G.E. as a Design Engineer, Level 7 in the component relay unit of the Product Engineering Subsection at an annual salary of $13,200. Design Engineer, Level 7 was an exempt, salaried position at Level 7 in G.E.'s exempt salary structure.

 10. In November, 1973, PSMBD was one of the departments of the Switchgear Equipment Business Division. Both PSMBD and the Division were located at G.E.'s plant at 6901 Elmwood Avenue, Philadelphia. PSMBD designed and made electrical relays, static terminals and auxiliary devices for use in controlling the flow of electricity. PSMBD's customers were primarily electric utilities.

 11. At the time plaintiff was hired, PSMBD enjoyed a substantial and increasing volume of business, and G.E. was expanding its employment of engineers and other exempt personnel.

 12. By September, 1974, the business situation had changed, and the managers of G.E.'s Switchgear Equipment Business Division decided to cut back employment immediately throughout the Division, including PSMBD.

 13. The first major reduction in force occurred in late September, 1974. At that time G.E. management determined that the engineering section of PSMBD should lay off two engineers.

 14. There were four subsections in the engineering section of PSMBD at that time: (i) Advanced Engineering, (ii) Electric Utility Application Engineering, (iii) Product Engineering, and (iv) Engineering Planning and Support. The engineers employed in these various subsections were at various levels in G.E.'s exempt salary structure, had differing experience and qualifications and performed different kinds of work on different products. Those in the Advanced Engineering Subsection were responsible for developing and designing new protective relays and systems. Those in the Electric Utility Application Engineering Subsection were responsible for tailoring protective relay system designs to specific customer needs. Those in the Product Engineering Subsection were primarily responsible for designing new relays and modifying existing designs to cover customer needs and providing liaison between the factory and the customers on products currently in production, including help on maintenance and calibration, and revising designs, factory test instructions, and instruction books as required. Those in the Engineering Planning and Support Subsection were primarily responsible for providing drafting and reproduction services for relay products, and providing engineering program management for development programs.

 15. In September, 1974 there were 18 engineers in the Advanced Engineering Subsection and Electric Utility Application Engineering Subsection. They were performing the most sophisticated work in the engineering section of PSMBD. Many of the engineers in these units had begun their employment in entry level engineering positions in the Product Engineering Subsection and had "graduated" to the more sophisticated engineering work in advanced engineering and electric utility application engineering.

 16. There were only two engineers in the Engineering Planning and Support Subsection. The other personnel in this subsection were non-exempt personnel who were members of two different collective bargaining units: one IFPTE and one IUE.

 17. There were 29 engineers in the Product Engineering Subsection, including plaintiff. Some of these engineers were performing primarily mechanical engineering work; others were performing primarily electrical engineering work. Those performing mechanical engineering work were sometimes, though not always, capable of performing electrical engineering work and vice versa. Each engineer was assigned specific products on which to work, and experience in working on one product (e.g. certain relays) did not necessarily qualify the person to do engineering work on other kinds of products (other relays, static terminals or switches and auxiliary devices). Appendix 1 diagrams the organizational structure of PSMBD, and lists the supervisors of each subsection and the engineers employed in each unit in late September of 1974. Appendix 1 also sets forth the continuous service date of each employee.

 18. Following the decision to lay off two engineers in the engineering section of PSMBD, Lawrence L. Mankoff, the manager of that section instructed the managers of each of the four subsections to rank their engineers in the order of their contribution to the business in accordance with G.E.'s written policy relating to reduction in the exempt work force.

 19. Leonard Scharf, Manager of the Product Engineering Subsection had three units within his subsection: (i) static terminals unit, (ii) component relay unit, and (iii) switches and materials unit. The manager of the static terminals unit was James Teague. The manager of the component relay unit was Ernest Stagliano. The personnel in the switches and materials unit were supervised directly by Mr. Scharf.

 20. The G.E. policy relating to reduction of exempt work force, in effect in September, 1974, provided:

 
"1. Review business and manpower needs.
 
a. determine the needs of the business.
 
b. determine the required positions to meet the ...

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