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William J. Mathews v. Cingular Wireless D/B/A At&T

February 16, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wigenton, District Judge.



Before the Court is Defendants‟ Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion") pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Venue is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b). This Court, having considered the parties‟ submissions, decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons stated below, this Court GRANTS Defendants‟ Motion.


William J. Mathews brought an action against Defendants Cingular Wireless d/b/a AT&T Mobility ("AT&T"), Thomas DeVito, and Lance Schulman arising out of his participation in an internal investigation of AT&T. (Compl. 2-3.) Plaintiff alleges Defendants violated 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3 and NJSA 10:5-1, et seq., by retaliating against Plaintiff for his having assisted another employee with that employee‟s complaint against Schulman. (Am. Compl. 4; Defs.‟ Ex. A at 31-35.) Defendants move for summary judgment on these two counts.

From 2004 until 2007, Plaintiff worked as Area Retail Sales Manager ("ARSM") in AT&T‟s New York/New Jersey Market. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 16, 18.) In 2007, Plaintiff transferred to the Savannah Market and continues to work there as an ARSM. (Defs.‟ Ex. M at 12.)

Plaintiff alleges that in or around April 2005, Plaintiff and Pedro Delgado, asked Schulman to return a laptop Schulman had removed from Delgado‟s store. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 31-32.) According to Plaintiff, Schulman responded to this request by stating that he would inflict some form of physical harm upon Plaintiff.*fn1 (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 32; Defs.‟ Ex. B at 14-15; Defs.‟ Ex. C at 20.) Schulman then allegedly remarked to Delgado, "I don‟t know why you need the laptop. I didn‟t think Puerto Ricans knew how to use computers." (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 32.) Schulman allegedly called Plaintiff a "D[i]ck." (Defs.‟ Ex. F.) Plaintiff walked away upon hearing Schulman‟s comment. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 32.)

After this incident, Delgado filed an ethics complaint, which was investigated by Human Resources at AT&T. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 34-36.) The Human Resources Manager, Jim Booth, called Plaintiff to confirm the allegations made by Delgado. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 34.) At first, Plaintiff did not want to get involved with the investigation, but confirmed Schulman‟s remarks over the phone. (Id. at 35.) The phone conversation with Booth was the extent of Plaintiff‟s involvement with the investigation. (Id.) In May 2005, Schulman received a final written warning. (Defs.‟ Ex. C at 25.) The purpose behind giving Schulman a final written warning was due to:

Making inappropriate comments to employees in a subordinate role, but non direct reporting.

Using inappropriate language.

Making comments that could be perceived as threatening. [Defs.‟ Ex. G.]

After the April 2005 incident, Plaintiff did not suffer any retaliatory actions between April 2005 and November 2005. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 37, 42.) However, Plaintiff believes that he was later unfairly singled out and "had to run faster and jump higher than the average." (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 37-8.) Plaintiff contends Defendants‟ reneged on their promise to raise salary his salary. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 42-43.) Further, Plaintiff believed that his supervisors were more focused on Plaintiff‟s results than on those of other ARSMs. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 38.)

By 2006, Plaintiff experienced several incidents that he believes were retaliatory in nature. First, in February 2006 Plaintiff received an unfavorable performance review for 2005 (Defs.‟ Ex. J; Defs.‟ Ex. A at 56-61; Defs.‟ Ex. K.) Plaintiff believes the 2005 performance review was an unfair assessment of his work considering Plaintiff was awarded the 2005 Area Manager of the Year. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 47.) Second, on March 13, 2006, a Performance Improvement Plan ("PIP") was drafted for Plaintiff outlining various problems with Plaintiff‟s management of his New Jersey stores. (Defs.‟ Ex. L.) Around the same time as the PIP, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the EEOC based on discrimination. (Defs.‟ Ex. A at 76.)

By December 2006, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Schulman for his comments during an awards dinner. (Id. at 82.) Schulman allegedly made several sexual remarks, including a comment that Plaintiff perceived was directed at his wife. (Id. at 82-84.) After Schulman‟s termination in January 2007, Plaintiff received a more than favorable performance review ...

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