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Jackson v. Unisys

May 15, 2009

RAY JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNISYS, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jones, J.

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court is Defendant Unisys, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 4), Plaintiff's Response in Opposition thereto (Doc. No. 6), and Unisys' Reply (Doc. No. 7). For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is granted.

I. Procedural History

On July 14, 2008, Plaintiff Ray Jackson filed a Complaint against Unisys, Inc. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on August 6, 2008. In his Amended Complaint, Plaintiff raises claims pursuant to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA") (Counts I & II), the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") (Counts III & IV), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") (Count V). On October 6, 2008, Unisys filed its Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II, IV, and V of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. Also on that date, Unisys filed an Answer to Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. On October 21, 2008, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. Unisys filed a Reply on October 28, 2008. The matter was reassigned to this court on November 14, 2008.

II. Factual Allegations

The court recites the facts as alleged in the Amended Complaint and as viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff.

Plaintiff was employed by Unisys from 1997 until his termination in 2005. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 11.) Approximately 8 months prior to his termination, Plaintiff had advised his employer that he was suffering from a severe autoimmune disorder. (Am. Compl. ¶ 8.) Representatives of Unisys encouraged Plaintiff to continue working rather than go on short-term disability while his disorder was being treated. (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8-9.) Plaintiff continued working for Unisys. (Am. Compl. ¶ 10.) On May 26, 2005, Unisys advised Plaintiff, in writing, that his employment was going to be terminated but that he could pursue other job opportunities within Unisys. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff was later informed that he was going to be laid off on July 21, 2005, with a termination date of August 18, 2005. (Am. Compl. ¶ 11.)

Plaintiff was advised that he would be entitled to certain enhancements to his severance if he signed a complete release of all employment-related claims, including claims brought under the ADEA, the ADA, and the PHRA. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12.) On May 31, 2005, Unisys presented Plaintiff with a Severance Agreement and Release ("Agreement" or "Severance Agreement"). (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.) Nothing in the Agreement prevented Plaintiff from being rehired by the Company. (Am. Compl. ¶ 12.) According to the Agreement terms, Plaintiff had twenty-one days to review and accept the Agreement, and seven days after his acceptance to revoke the acceptance. (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.) Plaintiff signed the Agreement on Monday, June 20, 2005 in front of a Unisys security guard in the main lobby of the Unisys facility. (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.) However, Plaintiff erroneously dated the Agreement June 19, 2005, which was a Sunday. (Am. Compl. ¶ 13.)

On Monday, June 27, 2005, Plaintiff attempted to revoke his acceptance of the Agreement. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff wished to revoke his acceptance pursuant to the Older Workers' Benefit Protection Act ("OWBPA") and pursuant to the terms of the Agreement. (Am. Compl. ¶ 14.) 29 U.S.C. § 626.*fn1 Unisys refused to accept his revocation, asserting that the seven-day revocation period had expired and rejecting Plaintiff's contention that he had signed the Agreement on June 20. (Am. Compl.¶¶ 14-15.) Unisys claimed that Plaintiff had only until June 26 to revoke, and that Sundays counted in the calculation of days.*fn2 (Am. Compl. ¶ 15.) Plaintiff's counsel contact Unisys' counsel to reiterate Plaintiff's intent to rescind under the OWBPA. (Am. Compl. ¶ 16.) On June 28, 2005, Joe Tiklits, in-house counsel for Unisys, again rejected Plaintiff's attempt to rescind, and stated, "The law is quite clear on this point. Saturdays and Sundays do not extend the revocation period." (Am. Compl. ¶ 16.)

Plaintiff believes that Unisys knew that he intended to pursue a claim under one or more of the anti-discrimination laws listed in the Severance Agreement. (Am. Compl. ¶ 17.)

On June 27, 2005, Plaintiff learned that the Public Sector Division of Unisys was interested in re-hiring him. (Am. Compl. ¶ 18.) Plaintiff participated in a series of interviews and was told by Claudia Langguth, then Vice President HHS Programs, Global Public Sector, that he would be hired. (Am. Compl. ¶ 18.) On Monday, July 11, 2005, Ms. Langguth telephoned Plaintiff and informed him that she was completing the paperwork to formalize an offer of re-employment. (Am. Compl. ¶ 19.) Plaintiff and Ms. Langguth discussed his salary and management level and confirmed his start date. (Am. Compl. ¶ 19.) Ms. Langguth wrote Plaintiff an e-mail stating, "Ray, I am working on the rec [requisition] to get you back to Unisys! We are thrilled to have you as part of our team. I will make the position effective July 25, right? Regards, Claudia." (Am. Compl. ¶ 19.) On Tuesday, July 12, Ms. Langguth informed Plaintiff that she had submitted all of the paperwork necessary for Plaintiff's rehire. (Am. Compl. ¶ 20.)

On Friday, July 15, 2005, Plaintiff received a phone call from Ron Gosdeck, who informed Plaintiff that he would not be given the job offer after all. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.) Later that afternoon, Plaintiff spoke to Jim Baker, the Project Manager for the project to which Plaintiff was initially assigned, who told Plaintiff that he was very disappointed that Plaintiff would not be given a formal letter of hire. (Am. Compl. ¶ 21.) That afternoon, Plaintiff spoke to Ms. Langguth who advised Plaintiff that her requisition for his hire had been stopped by the Human Resources department. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.) She repeatedly apologized to Plaintiff, but she was unable to tell Plaintiff why Human Resources had prevented her from rehiring him. (Am. Compl. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff believes that Unisys decided to bar his re-hire because of his disorder and/or because Unisys perceived him to be handicapped or disabled. (Am. Compl. ¶ 23.) Plaintiff also believes that Unisys decided to bar his re-hire because he had intended to revoke his acceptance of the Severance Agreement and in retaliation for raising claims that Unisys's refusal to acknowledge his rescission violated the OWBPA. (Am. Compl. ¶ 24.)

Plaintiff filed a charge for discrimination with the EEOC and the PHRC on March 8, 2006, claiming that Defendant refused to re-hire him in July 2005 because of his disability and in retaliation for his attempt to revoke his acceptance of the Severance Agreement. (Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss 2; Def.'s Mem. ...


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