United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Tanya Kaminski ("Kaminski") brings suit against
three groups of defendants:
1. the State of New Jersey Department of Military and
Veterans Affairs ("DMVA"), Susan Sweeney, and
Robert Hoyd (collectively, the "State Defendants"),
2. Communications Workers of America Local 1038 (“CWA
Local 1038"), Communications Workers of America
International Union ("CWA International Union"),
and Michelle Franklin (collectively, the "CWA
3. Samuel Hayes, Victoria Ragucci, and Tyeka Knight (the
Complaint asserts nine causes of action, including a claim of
conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("§
1983") against all defendants. The State Defendants
removed this action from state court, citing this Court's
federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
before the Court are Kaminski's motion to remand the
action to state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447, and
for reimbursement of just costs and fees, as well as separate
motions of the State Defendants, the CWA Defendants, and the
Individuals to dismiss this removed action for failure to
state a claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).
reasons stated below, I will deny Kaminski's motion to
remand. I will partially grant the motions of the State
Defendants, CWA Defendants, and Individuals to dismiss the
complaint. Finally, I will decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Kaminski's remaining state law claims.
November 22, 2017, Kaminski filed a civil complaint in the
Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County
against the State Defendants, CWA Defendants, and
Individuals. It alleges as follows:
plaintiff, Tanya Kaminski, was employed by the DMVA and the
Youth Challenge Academy ("Academy") as a teacher.
(Compl. ¶¶ 1-2). The Academy is a school located in
Fort Dix, New Jersey, which is operated by the DMVA.
(Id. at ¶ 2). Kaminski worked at the Academy
for eight years until she was terminated. (Id. at
October 28, 2015, Kaminski "learned that she was
pregnant and reported it to her employer at the
Academy." (Id. at ¶ 15). According to
Kaminski, upon learning of her pregnancy, the
"Defendants . . . with discriminatory intent, embarked
upon a plan to deprive [Kaminski] of her rights and to
terminate her employment in violation of her rights" to
employment and maternity leave. (Id. at ¶¶
17, 19). Part of that plan, says Kaminski, included
"Defendants using their positions of power to influence
students to file false complaints as a ploy and pretext to
unlawfully terminate" her. (Id. at ¶ 19).
She alleges that Defendants urged students to complain about
her in writing, "reviewed and edited their
writings" (id. at ¶ 20), and "met
with students on multiple occasions to make sure that their
statements met with their narrative" (id. at
was a member of CWA International Union, specifically CWA
Local 1038. Pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement
("CBA") with DMVA, (id. at ¶ 3), she
filed a grievance in connection with her termination. The
union represented Kaminksi against the DMVA during the
grievance and arbitration process. (Id. at ¶
3-5). Kaminski alleges that at her arbitration proceeding,
the CWA Defendants "failed to advance the argument that
the purpose of the termination was to deprive [Kaminski] of
her rights, allowing improper matters to be considered,
failing to call material witnesses, and did not adequately
and fairly represent [Kaminski] during the proceedings."
(Id. at ¶ 23).
Complaint asserts nine claims, only one of which (the Fifth)
invokes federal law:
Count 1: Breach of the duty of fair representation under the
New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act, N.J.S.A.
Count 2: Vacatur of an arbitration award under N.J.S.A.
Count 3: Violation of the New Jersey Law Against
Discrimination ("NJLAD"), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, et seq.
- wrongful termination
Count 4: Violation of the NJLAD - hostile work environment
Count 5: Conspiracy to deprive Kaminski of rights,
privileges, and immunities secured by the United States
Constitution in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Count 6: Breach of contract
Count 7: Negligence
Count 8: Unlawful interference with contractual relations
Count 9: Unlawful interference with prospective economic
¶¶ 29-81 (emphasis added)).
Complaint seeks the entry of an Order declaring the opinion
and award of the arbitrator vacated, damages for lost front
and back pay, punitive damages, damages for pain and
suffering, attorney's fees, costs of suit, and
"[s]uch other relief as this Court may deem equitable
Removal and Motions at Issue
January 2, 2018, a copy of the Complaint and Summons was
served upon the State Defendants. (Notice of Removal ¶
3) (citing Exhs. B, C, and D). On February 1, 2018, the State
Defendants filed a Notice of Removal based on this
court's federal question jurisdiction over the §
1983 claim. (Id. at ¶ 2 (citing Compl.
¶¶ 21, 22, 25-27, 30)). See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 (federal question jurisdiction). The CWA
Defendants consented to the removal of the action.
(Id. at ¶ 6).
week later, on February 8, 2018, the State Defendants and the
CWA Defendants filed separate motions under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss the Complaint with
prejudice for failure to state a claim. (ECF Nos. 2, 3). On
March 2, 2018, Kaminski filed her opposition to the
defendants' motions to dismiss, (ECF No. 6), slightly out
of time. (The untimeliness is excused on the grounds stated
in the accompanying letter. (ECF No. 6-2).) On March 5, 2018,
the CWA Defendants filed a reply to Kaminski's opposition
to its motion to dismiss, (ECF No. 8), which is now fully
briefed and ripe for decision. On April 2, 2018, Defendants
Ragucci, Hayes and Knight joined the State Defendants'
motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 13).
on February 27, 2018, Kaminski filed a motion to remand the
case to state court and award just costs and fees incurred as
a result of the improper removal. (ECF No. 4). The Complaint,
she says, must be remanded because the Eleventh Amendment
bars this court from hearing claims against the State,
(id. at 2-5); because the State is not a
"person" amendable to suit under § 1983,
(id. at 8); and because this Court should abstain
under Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971)
(id. at 6-7). The State Defendants and CWA
Defendants oppose Kaminski's motion to remand. (ECF Nos.