Niec v. Segerdahl Graphics, Inc., An Illinois Corporation et al

Northern District of Illinois, ilnd-1:2016-cv-05347

Affirmative Defenses and ANSWER to Complaint by Segerdahl Graphics, Inc., The Segerdahl Corp.

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Case: 1:16-cv-05347 Document #: 10 Filed: 07/15/16 Page 1 of 9 PageID #:21 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION ANDY NIEC,)) Plaintiff,)) v.)) Case No. 16-cv-05347 SEGERDAHL GRAPHICS, INC., an) Illinois corporation, and THE) SEGERDAHL CORP., d/b/a SG360, an) Illinois corporation,)) Defendants.) DEFENDANTS ANSWER AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES TO COMPLAINT NOW COMES Defendants, SEGERDAHL GRAPHICS, INC. ("Segerdahl Graphics"), an Illinois corporation, and THE SEGERDAHL CORP., d/b/a SG360 ("Segerdahl Corp."), an Illinois corporation (collectively "Defendants"), by and through their attorneys, Freeborn & Peters LLP, and for their Answer and Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiff's Complaint, states as follows: ANSWER TO COMPLAINT JURISDICTION 1. This is a suit in equity authorized and instituted pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq. The jurisdiction of this court is invoked to secure protection of and to address deprivation of rights secured by 29 U.S.C. § 621, providing for declaratory, injunctive, compensatory, and other relief against employment discrimination based upon age. Jurisdiction of this court is based upon federal questions, 28 U.S.C. § 1331. ANSWER: Defendants admit that Plaintiff brings his claim under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. Defendants deny any and all liability pursuant to the ADEA or otherwise. Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer pursuant to the ADEA and therefore deny that subject 3637707v1/23327-0038 1 Case: 1:16-cv-05347 Document #: 10 Filed: 07/15/16 Page 2 of 9 PageID #:22 matter jurisdiction is proper. Defendants state that the remainder of the allegations in this paragraph state a legal conclusion to which no response is required; to the extent that an answer is required, Defendants deny the remaining allegations of this paragraph 1. 2. Venue in this district is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 (B). The Defendants reside or resided in this district and the events giving rise to Plaintiff's claims occurred here. ANSWER: Defendants admit that venue is proper in this Court. 3. All conditions precedent to jurisdiction have occurred or been complied with, to-wit: a. Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination, #440-2015-02177, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). on January 12, 2015, a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit 1. b. The EEOC issued a notice of right to sue to Plaintiff for charge #440-2015-02177 on February 19, 2016, a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit 2. ANSWER: Defendants admit that Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC on or about January 13, 2015. Defendants admit that the EEOC Charge was numbered 440-2015-02177. Defendants deny that a copy of said Charge was attached to the copy of the Complaint that was served on Defendants but note that a copy of said Charge is attached to the electronically filed Complaint. Defendants admit that the EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue to Plaintiff for said Charge on or about February 19, 2016. Defendants deny that a copy of said Notice of Right to Sue was attached to the copy of the Complaint that was served on Defendants but note that a copy of said Right to Sue is attached to the electronically filed Complaint. Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it is subject to jurisdiction as it was not Plaintiff's employer. 3637707v1/23327-0038 2 Case: 1:16-cv-05347 Document #: 10 Filed: 07/15/16 Page 3 of 9 PageID #:23 PARTIES 4. NIEC is a citizen of the United States and the State of Illinois and resides in Northbrook, Cook County, Illinois. ANSWER: Upon information and belief, Defendants admit the allegations of this paragraph 4. 5. NIEC is a member of protected classes in that he was 64 years of age at the time of his termination. ANSWER: Upon information and belief, Defendants admit the allegations of this paragraph. Answering further, Defendant Segerdahl Corp. states that it did not employ, and therefore did not terminate, Plaintiff. 6. SEGERDAHAL [SIC] GRAPHICS, INC. is an Illinois corporation. ANSWER: Defendants admit the allegations of this paragraph 6. 7. SEGERDAHAL [SIC] GRAPHICS, INC. is qualified to do business in the State of Illinois and is doing business in the State of Illinois. ANSWER: Defendants admit the allegations of this paragraph 7. 8. SEGERDAHAL [SIC] GRAPHICS, INC.is an employer as that term is defined under the pursuant to the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 630 (B). ANSWER: Defendants admit the allegations of this paragraph 8. 9. THE SEGERDAHAL [SIC] CORP. is an Illinois corporation. ANSWER: Defendants admit the allegations of this paragraph. 10. THE SEGERDAHAL [SIC] CORP. is qualified to do business in the State of Illinois and is doing business in the State of Illinois. ANSWER: Defendants admit the allegations of this paragraph. 3637707v1/23327-0038 3 Case: 1:16-cv-05347 Document #: 10 Filed: 07/15/16 Page 4 of 9 PageID #:24 11. THE SEGERDAHAL [SIC] CORP. is an employer as that term is defined under the pursuant to the ADEA, 29 U.S.C. § 630 (B). ANSWER: Defendants admit the allegations of this paragraph. Answering further, Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer pursuant to the ADEA. BACKGROUND FACTS 12. NIEC began his employment in 1979 with Columbia Graphics, which was bought by Defendants in 2002. ANSWER: Upon information and belief, Defendants admit that Plaintiff began his employment with Columbia Graphics in or about 1978. Defendants admit that in 2002, Columbia Graphics consolidated with Segerdahl Graphics. 13. NIEC's most recent position with Defendants was Estimator. ANSWER: Defendants admit the allegations of this paragraph 13. 14. Throughout his employment with Defendants, NIEC performed to their legitimate expectations. ANSWER: Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer and, as a result, denies that Plaintiff performed services on its behalf or to its expectations. Defendant Segerdahl Graphics denies the allegations of this paragraph 14. 15. On March 19, 2014, Defendants terminated Plaintiff's employment. ANSWER: Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer and, as a result, denies that it terminated Plaintiff's employment. Defendant Segerdahl Graphics admits that Plaintiff's employment was terminated on or about March 19, 2014. 3637707v1/23327-0038 4 Case: 1:16-cv-05347 Document #: 10 Filed: 07/15/16 Page 5 of 9 PageID #:25 16. One or more similarly situated employees outside of NIEC's protected class were treated more favorably than NIEC. ANSWER: Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer and, as a result, denies that it treated one or more similarly situated employees outside of Plaintiff's protected class more favorably than Plaintiff. Defendant Segerdahl Graphics denies the allegations of this paragraph 16. COUNT I - AGE DISCRIMINATION SEGERDAHL GRAPHICS, INC. and THE SEGERDAHL CORP. 17. NIEC reincorporates and realleges Paragraphs 1 through 16 as though more fully set forth herein. ANSWER: Defendants reallege and incorporate by this reference their answers to paragraphs 1-16 as though fully set forth herein. 18. Defendants, in violation of the provisions of 29 U.S.C. § 621, §623 et seq., have denied and continue to deny Plaintiff an equal opportunity for employment because of his age. ANSWER: Defendants deny the allegations of this paragraph 18. Answering further, Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer pursuant to the ADEA. 19. When Plaintiff was terminated, he was subjected to age discrimination in that there was a double standard set up between older employees and younger employees not included within the protected class. Plaintiff's younger counterparts were not subjected to discriminatory treatment. ANSWER: Defendants deny the allegations of this paragraph 19. Answering further, Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer. 20. Defendants knew that terminating Plaintiff because of his age violated the ADEA. 3637707v1/23327-0038 5 Case: 1:16-cv-05347 Document #: 10 Filed: 07/15/16 Page 6 of 9 PageID #:26 ANSWER: Defendants deny the allegations of this paragraph 20 because Plaintiff was not terminated on account of his age. Answering further, Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer. 21. This is a proceeding for declaratory judgment as to Plaintiff's right of a permanent injunction restraining Defendants from maintaining a policy, practice, usage or custom of discriminating against Plaintiff because of his age with respect to the following: compensation, terms, conditions and privileges of employment and ways that deprive Plaintiff of equal employment opportunities and otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of age. This complaint also seeks restitution to Plaintiff for the denial of all of his rights, privileges, benefits and income that would have been received by him, but for Defendants' unlawful and illegal discriminatory practices. ANSWER: Defendants admit that Plaintiff brings the action described in paragraph 21 and seeks the relief described in paragraph 21. Defendants deny that they violated the ADEA or that Plaintiff is entitled to the relief that he seeks and describes in this paragraph 21. Defendants deny any and all liability. Answering further, Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer. 22. Plaintiff has no plain, adequate or complete remedy at law to address the wrongs alleged, and this suit for injunctive relief is his only means of securing adequate relief. Plaintiff is now suffering and will continue to suffer irreparable injury from Defendants' policy, practice, custom and usage as set forth herein, until and unless enjoined by the Court. ANSWER: Defendants deny the allegations of this paragraph 22. Answering further, Defendant Segerdahl Corp. denies that it was Plaintiff's employer. 23. Plaintiff demands a trial by jury. ANSWER: Defendants admit that Plaintiff demands a trial by jury. No answer is required to Plaintiff's prayer for relief. Defendants deny any and all liability and deny that Plaintiff is entitled to the relief requested. 3637707v1/23327-0038 6 Case: 1:16-cv-05347 Document #: 10 Filed: 07/15/16 Page 7 of 9 PageID #:27 AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES Defendants Segerdahl Graphics, Inc. ("Segerdahl Graphics") and The Segerdahl Corp. ("Segerdahl Corp.") (collectively "Defendants"), for their affirmative defenses to Plaintiff's Complaint, allege and state as follows: 1. Any of Plaintiff's claims that exceed the scope of any such Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") charge, or as to which no timely and proper charge was filed, are barred for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 2. Plaintiff's claims are barred for lack of subject matter jurisdiction to the extent that Plaintiffs did not timely, properly, and fully exhaust administrative remedies or satisfy the administrative prerequisites to bringing suit under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"). 3. Plaintiff's claims against Defendant Segerdahl Corp. are barred for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Segerdahl Corp. was never Plaintiff's employer. 4. Any and all of Plaintiff's claimed remedies must be limited, or are not recoverable at all, to the extent that Plaintiff failed to mitigate his claimed losses or caused those losses himself. 5. Any actions on the part of Segerdahl Graphics with respect to Plaintiff were based on legitimate, reasonable and non-discriminatory factors unrelated to any protected characteristic, including age. 6. Plaintiff's claims are barred because Segerdahl Graphics' actions were taken in good faith with reasonable grounds to believe such conduct comported with the ADEA. 7. Any award to Plaintiff of damages or equitable relief must be made and 3637707v1/23327-0038 7 Case: 1:16-cv-05347 Document #: 10 Filed: 07/15/16 Page 8 of 9 PageID #:28 limited in accordance with the ADEA. 8. Plaintiff is not entitled to liquidated damages as Defendants' conduct was not willful pursuant to the ADEA. WHEREFORE, Defendants requests that judgment be entered in their favor, that they be awarded their attorneys' fees and costs, and that the Court grant such further relief as it deems proper. Respectfully submitted, Dated: July 15, 2016 By: /s/ Rachel E.A. Atterberry One of the Attorneys for Defendants Rachel E.A. Atterberry Jennifer M. Huelskamp FREEBORN & PETERS LLP 311 South Wacker Drive, Suite 3000 Chicago, Illinois 60606 Telephone: (312) 360-6000 Facsimile: (312) 360-6994 ratterberry@freeborn.com jhuelskamp@freeborn.com Attorneys for Defendants 3637707v1/23327-0038 8 Case: 1:16-cv-05347 Document #: 10 Filed: 07/15/16 Page 9 of 9 PageID #:29 CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE The undersigned, an attorney, certifies that she caused a copy of the foregoing to be served on all parties of record via the U.S. District Court ECF filing system on July 15, 2016. /s/ Rachel E.A. Atterberry 3637707v1/23327-0038 9