The opinion of the court was delivered by: KELLY
Presently before the court is a summary judgment motion filed by the defendants. This matter involves three related age discrimination suits filed by the plaintiffs. Their complaints aver a pattern and practice of discrimination against employees in the protected age group of forty (40) to seventy (70) years old. The plaintiffs filed a seven count amended complaint but have agreed to voluntarily dismiss four of the counts.
The remaining counts are the subject of defendants' motion. The plaintiffs originally filed separate actions against the three defendants, but because the cases presented common issues of fact and law, I ordered their consolidation in the interest of promoting judicial efficiency. See Valenti v. International Mill Service, Inc., et al., No. 84-1218, slip op., September 28, 1984.
Messrs. Bumpers and Beckwith were employed by the Clarence A. Hackett Corporation (Hackett) beginning in 1954 and 1959 respectively. Hackett was a wholly owned subsidiary of International Mill Services, Inc. (IMS) until 1984 when Hackett merged into IMS. IMS is a wholly owned subsidiary of IU International Corporation (IU). Neither Bumpers or Beckwith worked for the parent corporation, IU. Mr. Valenti was employed by IMS beginning in 1963 and continued there until his termination. Count I of the complaint states alleged violations of Section 4(A) of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. (ADEA). Count II maintains defendants violated the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA).
Count III alleges violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1140 (ERISA). This summary judgment motion goes to all of the remaining counts.
The purpose of a summary judgment motion is to test the merits of the action and determine prior to trial whether the parties have a basis for relief or defense. It is axiomatic that such a motion is not a substitute for trial and if the record, when examined in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, shows any materials facts or inferences that are in dispute, the motion should be denied. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Tomalewski v. State Farm Life Insurance Co., 494 F.2d 882, 884 (1974). It is with this understanding that the court begins its discussion of defendants' motion.
Section 630(b) defines employer as "[a] person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has twenty or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year . . . The term also means (1) any agent of such a person . . ." The plaintiffs did not work directly for IU, thus, the parent corporation can only be defined as an employer if its subsidiary acted as its "agent" under Section 630 (b)(1). Agency connotes a master's control over the servant
and thus the inquiry must be focused upon whether some nexus exists between the parent IU and the subsidiary IMS to indicate that IMS is not an independent enterprise, but rather totally under the control and domination of IU. Courts have generally applied one of three tests to determine the extent a parent has assumed control over a subsidiary. They are (1) the integrated enterprise test; (2) the alter ego test; and (3) the mere instrumentality test. See Berkowitz v. Allied Stores of Penn-Ohio, Inc., 541 F. Supp. 1209, 1214 (E.D.Pa. 1982). The integrated enterprise test has been specifically applied to ADEA cases. It is directed towards determining whether nominally separate corporations should be considered a single employer.
To ascertain if the corporations function as one integrated enterprise, the court assesses the interrelations of the operations, the common management, centralized control of labor relations and common ownership or financial control existing between the parent and the subsidiary. Radio & Television Broadcast Technicians Local Union 1264 v. Broadcast Service of Mobile, Inc., 380 U.S. 255, 256, 13 L. Ed. 2d 789, 85 S. Ct. 876 (1965).
The ADEA does not impose liability upon the parent corporation merely because the termination decision of their subsidiary may have been illegal. The burden rests upon the plaintiff to show IMS is not independent of IU. Plaintiffs have failed to meet that burden, therefore, the parent corporation's motion for summary judgment as to Count I of the amended complaint will be granted.
B. Plaintiffs Valenti and Beckwith may not maintain an action against the defendants under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
The above named plaintiffs did not file charges with the commission within the statutorily mandated time period of ninety (90) days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act. Their claims under PHRA are barred and the defendants' motion on this issue will be granted.
C. Are there facts to support a claim under 29 U.S.C. § 1140?
Section 1140 of ERISA makes its unlawful for an employer to terminate a worker for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of pension benefits. The burden is ...