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BECKER v. WILLIAMS

July 17, 1989

RICHARD BECKER, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERWIN WILLIAMS and EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SAROKIN

 INTRODUCTION

 We have the most remarkable judicial system in the world. Although litigation expenses have risen dramatically over the years, the courts remain open to anyone to pursue legitimate claims no matter what a person's financial condition or station in life. Those who cannot afford to pay even the required filing fee are nonetheless granted access to the courts. It is because of this essential policy of openness that we must be wary of those persons who block the entryway to or abuse the system.

 Every frivolous suit requires time and attention and diverts the court from those matters which deserve its attention. Nowhere is this more apparent than in civil rights matters which demand investigation and attempts at conciliation by a federal agency in the first instance, and failing same, judicial review and determination. No function of the courts is more important than reviewing claims of discrimination based upon sex, national origin, religion, race or age. Therefore the filing of such claims without cause or basis trivializes the system and detracts from the thousands of legitimate claims which abound, and insults those who truly have been the victims of discrimination. Those who abuse the system for personal gain should be enjoined from continuing, and punished if they do not desist. The plaintiff herein, who has filed three hundred and twenty-one charges of discrimination to date, shall be so enjoined, and he is hereby forewarned that if he continues to utilize the judicial system as a means to harass and extort, he can expect to face further severe sanctions.

 In this action brought under the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. Sec. 621 et seq. ("ADEA"), defendant Sherwin Williams moves for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, and defendant Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") moves for dismissal pursuant Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Both defendants also move for injunctive relief, preventing the plaintiff from filing further complaints and taking other actions against them without first providing affidavits and other information.

 BACKGROUND

 This action stems from plaintiff's repeated attempts to gain employment with defendant Sherwin Williams and Sherwin Williams' repeated rejections of his applications. Plaintiff's complaint alleges that he applied for positions with Sherwin Williams from 1980 until mid-April, 1986, and that he was "never hired while younger less qualified people were hired." Complaint at Paragraph 3. Plaintiff also alleges that defendant EEOC did not properly investigate or prosecute his complaint and demonstrated bias against him. Id. Plaintiff's complaint requests back pay and damages in excess of ten million dollars.

 Although plaintiff alleges that his cause of action arises out of his attempts to gain employment from Sherwin Williams beginning in 1980, defendant Sherwin Williams states that Mr. Becker first applied for a managerial position with Sherwin Williams in early January of 1986. Certification of A. Donald Katen at at 2; Sherwin Williams' Brief in Support at 2. Plaintiff's cover letter referred to his educational background and experience in retail management, but it also contained numerous grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors, as well as spelling defendant's name improperly. Certification of A. Donald Katen at at 3, Exhibit A. His handwritten application showed a poor employment history, indicating that he had been employed for only six of the preceeding twenty-four years. Id. Sherwin Williams' personnel manager, Mr. Donald Katen, sent plaintiff a letter on January 15, 1986, which thanked him for his application but indicated that the company had identified more qualified candidates. Id. at at 4, Exhibit A.

 Mr. Becker was apparently employed in Sherwin Williams' management trainee program for a short period of time in 1974, *fn1" and the parties dispute whether he was at any time promoted to manager and the reasons for his termination. Upon his dismissal in 1974, Mr. Becker sued Sherwin Williams for wrongful termination and for failure to pay overtime. The state court dismissed plaintiff's claims of wrongful termination, and defendant Sherwin Williams contends that a settlement was reached with respect to plaintiff's overtime claims on January 29, 1986, which included a general release of all claims existing as of that date. Sherwin Williams' Brief in Support at 7. Mr. Becker, on the other hand, contends that no settlement agreement or general release was ever signed by him and that the state court proceeding is under reconsideration. Affidavit of Richard Becker in Opposition at at 3; Letter of Richard Becker Dated March 28, 1989 at 2.

 Once again in April of 1986, plaintiff applied for a managerial position with Sherwin Williams. His application listed an employment history which differed from that on his first application, listing jobs not stated on the first application and stating differing time periods of employment. Certification of A. Donald Katen at at 5, Exhibit B. On May 8, 1986, Sherwin Williams sent plaintiff another letter informing him of the company's decision not to hire him. Id. Mr. Katen states that his decisions not to hire Mr. Becker in January and April of 1986 were based on a determination that Mr. Becker was not qualified for a management position and that his age was not a factor in the decisions. Id. at at 4, 5, 14.

 In addition, Mr. Katen asserts that, at the time his employment decisions were made regarding Mr. Becker, he had no knowledge of the fact that plaintiff had previously filed any labor claims against Sherwin Williams. Id. at at 13. In his January, 1986, application to Sherwin Williams, plaintiff stated that he had been previously employed by Sherwin Williams, although his later applications failed to disclose any prior employment with the company. Id., Exhibit C. In one correspondence with plaintiff, Mr. Katen specifically requested that plaintiff clarify a reference to prior employment with Sherwin Williams, yet Mr. Becker failed to provide any clarification. Id.

 In April of 1988, shortly after the EEOC dismissed plaintiff's complaint, Mr. Becker once again sent Sherwin Williams a letter and application for employment. Certification of A. Donald Katen at at 6. Upon receipt of several phone calls from plaintiff requesting an interview, Mr. Katen agreed to interview plaintiff on April 22, 1988 at 10:00 a.m. Id. Mr. Becker called and cancelled the interview on April 22, and agreed to reschedule it for April 29, 1988 at 10:00 a.m. Id. at at 7. On April 29, Mr. Becker did not show up at the scheduled time of 10:00 a.m., but arrived at the office at 4:00 p.m. without having called to indicate that he would be late. Id. at at 8. Mr. Katen states that during the interview plaintiff provided an employment history which differed from that in his previous applications and that he "spoke in broken sentences, with little or no eye contact." Id. at at 9-10.

 As a result of the interview and in response to plaintiff's continued requests that Sherwin Williams hire him, Mr. Katen sent letters to plaintiff on May 11, May 26, and June 8, 1988, explaining his concerns regarding his employment history and qualifications and indicating that he would not be hired. Id. at at 11, Exhibit C. Once more in October of 1988, plaintiff wrote to Sherwin Williams, expressing an interest in employment and requesting an interview, ...


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