Wilson v. Monarch Paper Co.

939 F.2d 1138

 

RULE:

IIED claims can be brought in addition to a workplace claim for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

FACTS:

In 1970, at age 48, Richard E. Wilson (Plaintiff) was hired by Monarch Paper Company (Defendant). Monarch is an incorporated division of Unisource Corporation, and Unisource is an incorporated group of Alco Standard Corporation. Wilson served as manager of the Corpus Christi division until November 1, 1977, when he was moved to the corporate staff in Houston to serve as "Corporate Director of Physical Distribution." During that time, he routinely received merit raises and performance bonuses. In 1980, Wilson received the additional title of "Vice President." In 1981, Wilson was given the additional title of "Assistant to John Blankenship," Monarch's President at the time.  Subsequently, Wilson was demoted to the position of janitor.  He became mentally ill and had to be institutionalized. 

ISSUE:

Can IIED apply to a workplace claim that would ordinarily fall under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

To properly manage its business, every employer must on occasion review, criticize, demote, transfer, and discipline employees. It is not unusual for an employer, instead of directly discharging an employee, to create unpleasant and onerous work conditions designed to force an employee to quit, i.e., ‘constructively’ to discharge the employee. In short, although this sort of conduct often rises to the level of illegality, except in the most unusual cases it is not the sort of conduct, as deplorable as it may sometimes be, that constitutes ‘extreme and outrageous’ conduct. Monarch argues that assigning an executive with a college education and thirty years experience to janitorial duties is not extreme and outrageous conduct. The jury did not agree and neither does the court. It is difficult to conceive a workplace scenario more painful and embarrassing than an executive, indeed a vice-president and the assistant to the president, being subjected before his fellow employees to the most menial janitorial services and duties of cleaning up after entry level employees: the steep downhill push to total humiliation was complete. The evidence, considered as a whole, will fully support the view, which the jury apparently held, that Monarch, unwilling to fire Wilson outright, intentionally and systematically set out to humiliate him in the hopes that he would quit. A reasonable jury could have found that this employer conduct was intentional and mean spirited, so severe that it resulted in institutional confinement and treatment for someone with no history of mental problems. Finally, the evidence supports the conclusion that this conduct was, indeed, so outrageous that civilized society should not tolerate it.

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