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Noel v. Boeing Co.

October 1, 2010

EMMANUEL NOEL, APPELLANT
v.
THE BOEING COMPANY



On Appeal from the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, (No. 06-cv-2673), District Judge: Honorable J. Curtis Joyner.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fuentes, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted January 26, 2010

Before: FUENTES, FISHER, Circuit Judges, and KANE, District Judge.*fn1

OPINION

Emmanuel Noel appeals from the District Court's grant of summary judgment in The Boeing Company's favor on his employment discrimination claim brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On appeal Noel argues that the recently enacted Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 renders his otherwise out-of-time administrative filing timely, preserving his failure-to-promote claim. For the following reasons, we will affirm the District Court's ruling.

I.

A. Background

Noel is a black Haitian national, who began working for Boeing in 1990 as a sheet metal assembler at its Ridely Park, Pennsylvania facility.*fn2 Noel was hired at Labor Grade 5 and repaired Chinook 47 aircraft. The terms of Noel's employment were governed by a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between Boeing and the International Union of United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America Local 1069, as well as internal Boeing policies.

Boeing employees were occasionally offered an opportunity to work at offsite locations. Because employees working offsite received greater pay, per diems and additional training, offsite positions were coveted and individuals volunteered for these assignments. Any promotions and corresponding raises were limited to the duration of the offsite assignment. According to the CBA that governed Noel's employment, seniority was not the only factor that Boeing considered when assigning workers offsite. Rather, skill and ability were the determining factors, and seniority was only considered when those factors were equal.

Noel took his first offsite assignment in 1991 at a Boeing facility in Shreveport, Louisiana; this lasted approximately six months. Although he sought an offsite assignment in May 2002, Noel was not assigned offsite again until November 2002, when he was designated an aircraft mechanic to work on modifications to the V-22 Osprey at the Bell Helicopter facility in Amarillo, Texas. That assignment resulted in Noel's labor grade rising from 7 to 8; he also received a $57 per diem. After two weeks of working in Amarillo, Noel's salary was increased from $26.11 per hour to $28.75 per hour.

Around the same time, Chris Carlin and Gary Newman, both white employees, were also assigned to Amarillo from the Ridley Park facility. They too were reclassified from Labor Grade 7 aircraft assemblers to offsite mechanics at Labor Grade 8. After working in Amarillo for seven months, Carlin and Newman were promoted to Offsite Mechanic General, Labor Grade 11, while Noel remained at the lower paying Grade 8. In September 2003, Noel complained about these promotions to a union representative and a Boeing labor relations representative. His complaints went unanswered. Noel filed a Title VII suit against Boeing and one of its managers alleging discrimination based on race and national origin. On March 25, 2005, Noel filed a formal grievance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

On June 20, 2006, Noel filed a four-count Title VII complaint against Boeing. He thereafter amended the complaint. Count I of the Amended Complaint accused Boeing of intentional discrimination and disparate treatment based on Noel's race and national origin. Count II raised the same issue under the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act. Count III levied a retaliation claim against Boeing, and Count IV demanded punitive damages. These claims were based on several specific incidents referenced by Noel in his complaint. Relevant to this appeal, Noel complained: (1) that Boeing did not send him offsite to Amarillo in May 2002 when white, non-Haitian employees who held the same job as Noel but were junior to him ...


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