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Schmitz v. State, Department of Workforce Services, Labor Standards

Supreme Court of Wyoming

December 5, 2017

RON SCHMITZ, Appellant (Petitioner),

         Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Timothy C. Kingston, Law Office of Tim Kingston LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming; Patrick G. Reavey, Reavey Law LLC, Kansas City, Missouri. Argument by Mr. Reavey.

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; Michael J. Finn, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Elizabeth C. Gagen, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Gagen.

          Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.

          KAUTZ, Justice.

         [¶1] An independent hearing examiner with the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Labor Standards Appeals Division (WFS) denied Ron Schmitz's request for damages on his claim that the Wyoming Department of Corrections (DOC) discriminated against him based upon his advanced age. Mr. Schmitz filed a petition for review with the district court, naming WFS as the only respondent. The district court granted WFS's motion to dismiss on December 4, 2015, and several months later, Mr. Schmitz filed a motion to amend his petition for review to substitute or join DOC as respondent in the action. The district court ruled it had no jurisdiction to act on Mr. Schmitz's motion to amend because the case was finally resolved upon WFS's dismissal. Mr. Schmitz appeals to this Court from the district court's orders dismissing WFS and denying his motion to amend the petition for review.

         [¶2] We conclude that the district court's order dismissing WFS was final and appealable. Because Mr. Schmitz did not file a timely notice of appeal from that order, we do not have jurisdiction over this matter. Consequently, we dismiss.[1]


         [¶3] Although Mr. Schmitz presents several issues on appeal, the following issue is dispositive: Whether Mr. Schmitz's failure to file a timely notice of appeal from the district court's order dismissing the sole respondent, WFS, results in this Court having no jurisdiction over this case.


         [¶4] This case has a very complicated course of proceedings, much of which does not affect our decision. However, to provide the proper context for our discussion, we will summarize the various filings and rulings. Our recitation of the course of proceedings should not be considered an opinion on the propriety of the actions.

         [¶5] Mr. Schmitz was employed by DOC as a unit manager at the Wyoming State Penitentiary from August 2007 until he resigned in February 2012. During his tenure with DOC, Mr. Schmitz applied for several promotions and transfers, but younger people were hired for the positions. On May 20, 2011, Mr. Schmitz, who was then 63 years old, filed two charges of age discrimination. He filed the first charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 through 634. The second charge was filed with both the EEOC and WFS. Mr. Schmitz's WFS claim alleged a violation of the Wyoming Fair Employment Practices Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 27-9-101 through 106 (LexisNexis 2017).

         [¶6] WFS took the lead in investigating Mr. Schmitz's age discrimination claims pursuant to a workshare agreement with the EEOC. WFS obtained statements from Mr. Schmitz and DOC and compiled documents related to its inquiry. The agency ultimately determined there was probable cause to believe DOC had discriminated against Mr. Schmitz because of his age. DOC apparently requested a hearing on that decision.

         [¶7] WFS attempted to conciliate the matter and presented a proposed settlement to both parties. DOC notified WFS that it would not participate in conciliation and withdrew its request for a hearing. On April 15, 2013, WFS sent both parties a letter stating that, because DOC withdrew its request for a hearing and conciliation efforts had failed, WFS had administratively closed the case and sent it to the EEOC for further processing.

         [¶8] The EEOC concluded there was "reasonable cause to believe that there [was] a violation of ADEA" and also attempted to conciliate the matter. However, DOC again refused to participate in the conciliation process. EEOC issued Mr. Schmitz a notice of "right to sue" on January 24, 2014. Mr. Schmitz filed a civil action in the First Judicial District Court for the State of Wyoming, claiming DOC had violated the ADEA. The case was ...

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