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Broad v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 22, 2014

ROBERT BROAD, Plaintiff,
v.
THE HOME DEPOT U.S.A., INC., et al., Defendants

For ROBERT M. BROAD, Plaintiff: CHARLES P KELLY, LEAD ATTORNEY, KELLY LAW, P.C., RED BANK, NJ.

For THE HOME DEPOT U.S.A., INC., SCOTT MATTHEWS, BROCK DARBY, Defendants: PATRICK G. BRADY, LEAD ATTORNEY, EPSTEIN, BECKER & GREEN, P.C., NEWARK, NJ.

OPINION

Page 414

STANLEY R. CHESLER, United States District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court upon the motion filed by Defendants Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. (" Home Depot" ), Brock Darby and Scott Matthews (collectively, " Defendants" ) to dismiss certain claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff, Robert M. Broad (" Plaintiff" or " Broad" ) has opposed the motion. The Court has considered the papers filed by the parties. For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

This is an action for wrongful termination and age discrimination. According to the Complaint, Broad, who is 51 years old, had been employed by Defendant Home Depot for over 22 years, over the span of which he consistently received favorable performance reviews, promotions and bonuses. In or about February 2013, Plaintiff alleges, he agreed to take on a newly created position that would concentrate on increasing marketing and sales to governmental agencies throughout the United States. Plaintiff further alleges that, when asked to assume this job, he was assured that his compensation structure would not be negatively impacted. The Complaint avers that Broad successfully performed his new employment responsibilities.

In or around late August 2013, however, Defendant Brock Darby, who had recently become Broad's new supervisor, advised Broad that he was being demoted. Shortly before this announcement, Broad's immediate superior, Defendant Scott Matthews, had allegedly informed Broad that he was " making too much money," and shortly after Darby's demotion news, Matthews gave Broad a mid-year review that, according to Plaintiff, falsely indicated numerous

Page 415

deficiencies in Broad's job performance. Then, in late September 2013, despite continuing to perform his duties in " exemplary fashion," the Complaint alleges, Broad was issued a disciplinary write-up by Matthews reprimanding him for violating Home Depot's standards of professionalism and citing a verbal complaint from Home Depot's marketing team about Plaintiff's demeanor. After this reprimand, known internally at Home Depot as a " counseling," Broad contacted Home Depot's Human Resources Department to express his concern that Matthews and Darby were concocting negative reviews in retaliation for Broad's maintaining a high level of compensation and in an effort to force Broad to resign. According to Plaintiff, Matthews confronted Plaintiff, asking him why he had contacted Home Depot's Human Resources Department, but Plaintiff did not discuss the matter with him.

On or about November 5, 2013, Darby advised Broad that his employment with Home Depot was terminated. Home Depot did not provide Broad with a basis for the termination in writing, according to the Complaint. He alleges that the negative performance review and complaints about Broad's conduct were not substantiated and that his grievances about Matthews and Darby were not sufficiently investigated and/or addressed by Home Depot. Broad maintains that he was demoted " not as a result of [his] job performance, but to make room for younger and lesser paid Home Depot employees to assume Broad's role and/or fill Broad's position." (Compl. ¶ 5.) He further contends that he was unjustly terminated in retaliation for his complaints to Human Resources and based on age discrimination.

Broad filed this lawsuit in New Jersey state court on December 27, 2013. The Complaint asserts claims for breach of contract (Count One), breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing (Count Two), termination based on age discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (" NJLAD" ) (Count Three), retaliatory termination in violation of the NJLAD (Count Four), retaliatory termination in violation of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (" CEPA" ) (Count Five) and intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count Six). Defendants removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

II. Discussion


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