United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Stewart United"States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant O.C. Tanner
Company's Motion for Summary Judgment. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court will grant the Motion.
relevant undisputed facts are as follows. Defendant O.C.
Tanner Company (“Defendant” or “O.C.
Tanner”) employed Plaintiff Roxanne Brough
(“Plaintiff”) for approximately thirty-seven
years beginning in April 1977. Around mid-September 2014,
Plaintiff's manager, Mr. Tyson Heaton, informed Plaintiff
that her position at O.C. Tanner would soon be terminated.
Plaintiff's employment with O.C. Tanner ended in November
that she was unlawfully fired because of her age, Plaintiff
retained Mr. B. Kent Morgan (“Mr. Morgan”) to act
as her attorney. Mr. Morgan initiated a series of meetings
and conversations with various representatives of O.C. Tanner
in an attempt to settle the dispute. Having failed to reach
an agreement, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the EEOC on
August 25, 2016. Plaintiff received a Right to Sue letter
from the EEOC on September 28, 2016, and filed her Complaint
against Defendants O.C. Tanner and Does 1-5 in this Court on
November 3, 2016.
October 8, 2018, Defendant filed the Motion for Summary
Judgment now before the Court. Defendant argues
Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed because she failed
to timely comply with the filing requirement prescribed by 29
U.S.C. § 626(d)(1)(B). Plaintiff argues that the parties
had reached an agreement to toll the statute in a series of
meetings that took place between Mr. Morgan and
representatives of O.C. Tanner.
first of these meetings took place in early January 2015 with
Ms. Charlotte Miller (“Ms. Miller”), who was
Defendant's senior vice president of People and Great
Work. During this first meeting, Ms. Miller proposed a
separation agreement, which Plaintiff did not accept. Mr.
Morgan stated that he would not file a charge with the
appropriate administrative agency in order to allow for
further negotiations, to which Ms. Miller responded,
second meeting took place in February at Ms. Miller's
office. Mr. Morgan, Ms. Miller, and general counsel for O.C.
Tanner, Mr. Brian Katz (“Mr. Katz”) were all
present. At this meeting, Mr. Morgan repeated “the fact
that [he] was not going to seek administrative remedies with
UALD or the EEOC pending [their] good-faith
negotiations.” Ms. Miller responded, “That's
good of you, ” and Mr. Katz responded, “Well, you
- - you do what you have to do. I understand and appreciate
March 26, 2015, Mr. Morgan sent an email to Ms. Miller
outlining the costs Plaintiff allegedly incurred as a result
of her termination from O.C. Tanner, which totaled $434, 670.
Ms. Miller called Mr. Morgan sometime after receiving the
list and asked Mr. Morgan to make an offer of settlement. Mr.
Morgan stated that they would accept $50, 000 in settlement.
Ms. Miller told Mr. Morgan that she would get back to him
with an answer.
April 2015, Ms. Miller called Mr. Morgan to inform him that
O.C. Tanner would not pay Plaintiff $50, 000 to settle the
matter and indicated that “this [was] going to conclude
negotiation efforts.” Mr. Morgan called Ms. Miller back
later that same month and asked if O.C. Tanner would consider
a $40, 000 settlement. Ms. Miller again said she would convey
the offer to the decision makers. She also informed Mr.
Morgan that she would soon be leaving her employment with
O.C. Tanner and that Mr. Katz would take over the
October 2015, Mr. Katz and Mr. Morgan spoke regarding the
case. Mr. Katz offered $30, 000 to settle the matter with
Plaintiff and stated he would put the offer in writing. Mr.
Morgan agreed to discuss the offer with Plaintiff and again
informed Mr. Katz that he was not filing any administrative
complaints pending the negotiations. Mr. Katz confirmed that
he was aware and had discussed it with Ms. Miller. Mr. Morgan
then conveyed that he was willing to file with an
administrative agency because the 300-day deadline was
approaching. Mr. Katz responded, “No, let me do this
Morgan received the written offer on December 31, 2015, which
set the deadline for acceptance to January 18, 2016.
Plaintiff did not accept the offer and negotiations ceased.
Morgan testified that during these conversations, the various
representatives of O.C. Tanner never expressly agreed to toll
the 300-day statute of limitations. Instead, Mr. Morgan
stated that the agreement was implied by the above-described
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” The materiality requirement dictates that
“[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly
preclude the entry of summary judgment. Factual disputes that
are irrelevant or unnecessary will not be
the summary judgment stage, a complainant cannot rest on mere
allegations, but must set forth by affidavit or other
evidence specific facts, which for purposes of the summary
judgment motion will be taken to be
true.” The Court is required to construe all
facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party. “Where the record taken as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for
Plaintiff bringing a charge of discrimination under the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) must
file the charge with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged
discriminatory act. It is not disputed that Plaintiff failed
to meet this deadline. “When a plaintiff fails to meet
that deadline, [s]he may bring suit only if the requirement
is waived or tolled.”
Plaintiff argues that the deadline was tolled by agreement.
As the party asserting that the deadline should be tolled,
Plaintiff bears “the burden of establishing a factual
basis for tolling the statute.” Plaintiff
also argues ...