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Case Name Thiessen v. General Electric Capital Corp. EE-KS-0029
Docket / Court 96-2410-JWL ( D. Kan. )
Additional Docket(s) 5:98-cv-04122-JWL  [ 98-4122 ]  District of KS (U.S.)
5:98-cv-04121-JWL  [ 98-4121 ]  District of KS (U.S.)
2:02-cv-02322-JWL  [ 02-2322 ]  District of KS (U.S.)
State/Territory Kansas
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
On September 23, 1996, an employee of General Electric filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The plaintiff sued Montgomery Ward Credit Services, a subsidiary of General Electric Capital Corporation. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, sought injunctive ... read more >
On September 23, 1996, an employee of General Electric filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The plaintiff sued Montgomery Ward Credit Services, a subsidiary of General Electric Capital Corporation. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, sought injunctive relief [having difficulty from available opinions finding all sources of relief sought], alleging violations of the the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The plaintiff alleged that defendant, his employer, denied him a series of promotions; additionally, he alleged a pattern or practice of company-wide age discrimination. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged an overall policy of defendants to remove older workers from the company; the company identified them as “blockers,” as in their view, the older individuals “blocked” the advancement of younger employees.

This summary includes less information than usual because many of the documents for this case were not available. The summary provides information found in opinions and the docket.

Prior to filing this lawsuit, the plaintiff filed a charge of age discrimination with the EEOC and the Kansas Human Rights Commission alleging violations of the ADEA and FLSA. He alleged that defendants engaged in a pattern or practice of systematically discriminating against older workers.

The plaintiff furthered class allegations and sought permission to have “similarly situated” individuals opt-in as plaintiffs on September 23, 1996. He moved the court under the ADEA class provision to make the case a “collective action,” the equivalent of a class action. The ADEA uses the same opt-in class action mechanism as the Fair Labor Standards Act, U.S.C. §216(b). The court set an August 1997 deadline for potential plaintiffs to file “opt-in” request forms, and 30 individuals elected to opt-in. The individuals had to meet these criteria: (1) 40 years of age or older; (2) employed by General Electric Capital Credit, Montgomery Ward Credit Services or Monogram Retail Credit Services; (3) members of the salaried exempt work force in certain employment bands; and (4) involuntarily discharged, laid off, terminated, downgraded, demoted, denied advancement opportunities or forced to retire from employment by General Electric Company.

In response to the collective action motion, on February 5, 1998 Judge John Lungstrum conditionally certified a class and allowed 22 of the individuals to join the case. The court found eights plaintiffs’ claims were time barred. Judge Lungstrum found that the plaintiff produced direct evidence of a policy of purported age discrimination. The court, however, declined to grant final certification, noting the lack of a sufficient link between the alleged policy and the adverse job actions. 996 F. Supp. 1071.

The court had signaled that it would be open to revising the certification issue, so at the conclusion of discovery, the defendants moved to decertify the collective action and dismiss the opt−in plaintiffs on April 7, 1998. On the same day, the defendants also sought summary judgment against each of the individual plaintiffs. The court then granted the decertification motion and entered summary judgment for the employer with respect to the employee’s individual claims. On June 23, 1998, the court held that the would-be plaintiffs were not “similarly situated” to each other, they did not satisfy certain administrative filing requirements, and that plaintiffs failed to produce evidence to support their discrimination claims regarding failures to promote. 13 F.Supp. 2d 1131. On June 24, 1998, the court entered a judgment dismissing the action.

The employees appealed. See Docket No. 98−3208. On October 12, 2001, the Tenth Circuit reversed; it held that class status was appropriate, that summary judgment should not have been granted against the original plaintiff's age discrimination claim, and that eight individuals should be allowed to opt-in. 267 F.3d 1095. Defendants sought review in the Supreme Court. S.Ct. No. 01−881. On June 17, 2002, the Supreme Court denied cert.

On August 8, 2002, Judge Lungstrum entered an order consolidating cases 98-4122-DES, 98-4121-SAC, and 02-2322-GTV. Opt-in plaintiffs had brought these parallel age discrimination cases.

After remand, on August 30, 2002, the defendant sought summary judgment regarding the collective ADEA discrimination claim, and against the individual plaintiffs.

On November 8, 2002, the court issued two orders. In a published opinion, the court denied the motions for summary judgment in regard to certain individual plaintiffs. (The court rejected the defendants' argument that employees had waived their discrimination claims when they signed releases.) 232 F. Supp. 2d 1230.

On the same day, the court also granted summary judgment against three opt-in plaintiffs. According to the court, their claims were time-barred and could not join the original plaintiff’s EEOC filing. 2002 WL 31571614.

Without any intervening docket entries, on the plaintiffs' stipulation to dismissal, Judge Lungstrum ended the case. Presumably the case settled, but we have no information on that.

Lily Sawyer-Kaplan - 07/01/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-area
Demotion
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Age discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
General
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 et seq.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) General Electric Capital Corporation
Plaintiff Description (1) 40 years of age or older; (2) employed by General Electric Capital Credit, Montgomery Wards Credit Services or Monogram Retail Credit Services, Inc. (MRCSI); (3) members of the salaried exempt work force as either a Band III, IV or V employee; and (4) involuntarily discharged, laid off, terminated, downgraded, demoted, denied advancement opportunities or forced to retire from employment by General Electric Company.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Unknown
Filed 09/23/1996
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
2:96-cv-02410-JWL (D. Kan.)
EE-KS-0029-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/22/2003
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 279] (996 F.Supp. 1071) (D. Kan.)
EE-KS-0029-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/05/1998
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Lungstrum, John Watson (D. Kan.) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-0001 | EE-KS-0029-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Braud, Bert S. (Missouri) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000
Egan, Dennis E. (Missouri) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000
Hubbard, Dirk L. (Missouri) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000
Klamann, John M. (Missouri) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Catlett, Steven T. (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000
Finucane, Brian J. (Missouri) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000
Hess, Sharon D. (Texas) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000
Lampe, Matthew W. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000
Nager, Glen David (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000
Robinson, Jennifer L. (Kansas) show/hide docs
EE-KS-0029-9000

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