The opinion of the court was delivered by: MANSMANN
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction. After careful consideration of the evidence presented at the hearing on Plaintiff's Motion and the oral arguments made by counsel at that time, as well as the briefs submitted by the parties in support of their respective positions, this Court concludes that a preliminary injunction should issue. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction is granted.
To the extent that any conclusions of law may also be considered findings of fact, they are hereby incorporated into our findings of fact.
Plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") is an agency of the United States of America charged with the administration, interpretation and enforcement of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 ("ADEA"), as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. The EEOC is authorized to bring this action by section 7 of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 626.
Defendant United States Steel Corporation ("U.S. Steel") is a Delaware corporation which does business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and specifically does business in the Western District of Pennsylvania. U.S. Steel is engaged in, inter alia, the manufacture of steel and steel products.
At all times relevant hereto, Defendant has employed more than 20 employees and is an employer engaged in an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of section 11(b), (g) and (h) of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 630(b), (g) and (h).
This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345. The Court has jurisdiction to grant the relief requested pursuant to section 7(b) of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 626(b), incorporating sections 16 and 17 of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 216 and 217.
The EEOC brought this action alleging that Defendant was and is willfully engaging in employment practices which violate section 4(d) of the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 623(d), by requiring employees to sign a release of rights under the ADEA in order to obtain a "70/80" retirement pension.
The EEOC, simultaneously with the Complaint, requested a Temporary Restraining Order, contending that U.S. Steel's use and enforcement of the release was causing irreparable harm to the EEOC's investigative and administrative processes. Based upon the evidence presented at that time, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order, restraining U.S. Steel from enforcing certain portions of the release and also restraining U.S. Steel from terminating the 70/80 retirement pension with respect to certain individuals.
The parties are asserting essentially the same or similar contentions on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction now before us. Additional evidence, oral argument and legal memoranda have been presented for our consideration.
We find that U.S. Steel has, in fact, required certain individuals to sign a form called the "PF-116-B" as a prerequisite to obtaining a retirement pension known as the "70/80" retirement pension.
The PF-116-B contains a release or waiver of all claims and causes of action under, inter alia, the ADEA. The PF-116-B also expressly sets forth a promise by the signatory: (1) not to file or permit to be filed on his or her behalf any claim under the ADEA, (2) not to counsel or assist in the prosecution of such claims and (3) to withdraw any such claim filed by the signatory or by others on his or her behalf and to refuse to participate in any such claim.
The PF-116-B was implemented by U.S. Steel in October 1982. The release and waiver contained therein were not required before that time in order to obtain a 70/80 retirement pension.
Many of the individuals who were given the PF-116-B to sign were laid off or retired from jobs at U.S. Steel's Clairton Works in 1982 and 1983. In fact, of the former U.S. Steel employees who testified at the hearing before this Court, only one had not been employed at the Clairton Works at the time of his retirement.
A number of these laid off or retired individuals had filed charges with the EEOC concerning their layoffs or retirements before they were given the PF-116-B to sign. At least some, however, had not filed EEOC charges nor filed or joined any lawsuits against U.S. Steel at the time they signed the PF-116-B.
All nine of the former U.S. Steel employees who testified at the hearing had signed the PF-116-B. Five, and possibly six, of those individuals had previously filed charges with the EEOC and one of them had also filed an action in federal district court. Three individuals had not filed any charges nor joined any lawsuits at the time they signed the PF-116-B and indeed, they have not done so to date.
Only with respect to one individual did the evidence adduced at the hearing strongly suggest that execution of the PF-116-B was part and parcel of a settlement or compromise of a claim. Moreover, even in that case, the former employee disagrees with U.S. Steel's contention that the settlement encompassed both his federal court action and a second charge he filed with the EEOC. Rather, he asserts that the settlement resolved only his court action which was based upon an earlier EEOC charge and did not resolve the second EEOC charge.
With respect to the other former employees who testified at the hearing, there is no evidence, other than the timing of the execution of the PF-116-B, that the PF-116-B and the release and waiver contained therein were part of a settlement or compromise of a legal claim. Indeed, three witnesses had not asserted any legal claims prior to signing the PF-116-B. We note with regard to all eight of these individuals, that the record is devoid of any evidence of the negotiations which usually precede a settlement. There was also no evidence that negotiations had taken place with respect to others who did not testify.
Furthermore, the evidence indicated that only one of the nine former employees who testified had been represented by counsel with respect to the execution of the PF-116-B. There is no evidence that the others who testified or that others who did not testify were represented by counsel.
Indeed, there is no evidence that the EEOC was even involved in the purported "settlements" although some employees had ...