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Penders v. Rigaku MSC

July 12, 2010

LESLIE F. PENDERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RIGAKU MSC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John T. Curtin United States District Judge

INTRODUCTION

In this action, plaintiff Leslie F. Penders alleges that defendant Rigaku MSC, now known as Rigaku Americas Corporation ("Rigaku"), terminated his employment because of his age, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. § 621, et seq. Defendant moves for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. For the reasons that follow, defendant's motion is granted.

BACKGROUND AND FACTS

Rigaku develops x-ray component products for scientific and commercial use (see Item 29, ¶ 1). Plaintiff joined Rigaku in June 1988 as a field salesperson, and was appointed to the position of National Sales Manager in 1994. He returned to a field sales position in 2000 (id. at ¶¶ 2-6).

On August 8, 2001, plaintiff signed a document entitled "EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK ACKNOWLEDGEMENT [sic]," which states as follows:

By my signature above, I am indicating that I have received my copy of the [Rigaku] Employee Handbook. . . .

I understand this Employee Handbook sets significant changes that will affect my relationship with RIGAKU. The most significant change will likely be the addition of RIGAKU's new alternate dispute resolution (ADR) program that culminates in binding arbitration.

I agree to read the Handbook and follow and abide by its contents. . . .

I understand the Employee Handbook mandates an impartial two-step Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program to fairly resolve any disputes that might arise if I am terminated, but believe that termination was illegal or not in conformity with RIGAKU rules or policies. The ADR program must be promptly initiated, or certain legal rights might be lost. (Item 30, Ex. E, p. 74).*fn1

That same day, plaintiff also signed a document entitled "EMPLOYEE AGREEMENT TO PARTICIPATE IN RIGAKU'S ALTERNATE DISPUTE RESOLUTION ('ADR') PROGRAM," which states as follows:

This agreement is between me, and [Rigaku]. I understand that if I am terminated and believe my release is unlawful, or in violation of RIGAKU's rules or policies, . . . I will bring any challenge to that decision to RIGAKU's two-step Alternate Dispute Resolution Program set out in greater detail in my Employee Handbook. . . . .

I understand that I can, and must, bring any and all claims I might have under this program. That includes, but is not limited to, alleged claims for violations of the civil rights statutes (state or federal), such claims covered by statutes, including sex harassment, age, disability, or race discrimination.

Also, covered by the program are alleged claims for common law rights, such as privacy, slander, negligence, breach of contract (written or implied), etc.

I understand that if I do not bring my claims in a timely way by filing a written notice with the neutral administrator within six (6) months of the date my claim accrued, or within the statutory time limits, or consistent with ...


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