Wilson v. Monarch Paper Co.

939 F.2d 1138 (1991)

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Wilson v. Monarch Paper Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
939 F.2d 1138 (1991)

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In 1970, when he was 48, Richard Wilson (plaintiff) joined Monarch Paper Co. (Monarch) (defendant), a division of Unisource Corporation (defendant), which was itself a division of Alco Standard Corporation (Alco) (defendant). Wilson managed Monarch’s Corpus Christi division until 1977, when he was promoted to a corporate director position at the company’s Houston offices. In 1980, he was named Vice President. In 1981, he was given the additional title of Assistant to John Blankenship, Monarch’s president. Wilson’s performance was always highly regarded. In 1981, he managed the company’s largest construction project to date, completing it under budget. That same year, Monarch installed a new president, 42-year-old Hamilton Bisbee. There was much talk around that time about the age of the company’s management and about promoting younger people. Bisbee and the 43-year-old president of Unisource, Richard Gozon, wanted to get rid of Wilson. Bisbee refused to speak to or acknowledge him. Bisbee and Gozon gradually gave Wilson’s duties to other people. In or around June 1982, Bisbee presented Wilson with three options: (1) be terminated with three months’ severance, (2) take a sales position in Corpus Christi at half his pay, or (3) take a warehouse supervisor position in Houston at the same pay but with a loss of benefits including participation in the bonus program, a company car, an expense account, and a club membership. Wilson accepted the warehouse position, believing he would be the warehouse manager. In actuality, he was given an entry-level position that required less than one year’s experience. Wilson had a college degree and 30 years’ experience in the industry. His supervisor at the warehouse routinely harassed and verbally abused him, including by making and posting derogatory statements about his age. Wilson was put in charge of housekeeping at the warehouse with no employees to help him. Consequently, 75 percent of his workload was spent doing menial labor including sweeping the building and cleaning the cafeteria. Wilson began experiencing respiratory problems from the dust in the warehouse. He was also diagnosed with reactive depression from the stress of his work environment. Wilson had no prior psychological problems. In March 1983, he had a psychological episode that resulted in involuntary hospitalization. He developed a long-lasting depression that required further hospitalization and electric-shock therapy. In February 1984, Wilson sued Monarch, Unisource, and Alco. A jury found defendants liable for discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress under Texas law. Defendants appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Jolly, J.)

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