United States District Court, D. New Jersey
EIBELER, LLC By: Robert W. Smith, Esq.; Christopher J.
Eibeler, Esq. Counsel for Plaintiff Nicholas Walters
PORZIO, BROMBERG & NEWMAN, P.C. By: Kerri A. Wright, Esq.
Counsel for Defendant Safelite Fulfillment, Inc.
SATER, SEYMOUR, AND PEASE LLP By: Daniel J. Clark, Esq. By:
Liana R. Hollingsworth, Esq. Counsel for Defendant Safelite
RENÉE MARIE BUMB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Nicholas Walters (“Plaintiff”) brought this
action against Defendant Safelite Fulfillment, Inc.
(“Defendant” or “Safelite”), alleging
retaliation and associational discrimination/wrongful
discharge in violation of the New Jersey Law Against
Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, et. seq.
(“NJLAD”). Now, this matter comes before this
Court upon Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's
Complaint in its entirety (the “MTD”)[Dkt. No.
15-1], pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). For the reasons
set forth herein, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be
BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Nicholas Walters is a resident of Connecticut and was
previously employed by Defendant for about twelve years.
According to Plaintiff, he began working for Safelite at a
location in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in 2005 and remained at
that location until March 2015, when he was transferred to a
location in Connecticut. [See Compl., at
¶¶ 8-10, 25]. During his employment, Plaintiff
states that he was promoted twice, first to Assistant Store
Manager in 2011 and then to Store Manager in September 2015.
[Id., at ¶¶ 9-10, 25]. Approximately two
years after being transferred to Connecticut, Plaintiff's
employment was terminated in April 2017.
2016, over a year after Plaintiff's transfer to
Connecticut, Plaintiff alleges that managers in the
Philadelphia region began discriminating against Greg
Manning, a technician at the Cherry Hill location, upon Mr.
Manning's return to work from a medical leave for ankle
surgery. According to Plaintiff, Mr. Manning was subjected to
discriminatory conduct, such as ridicule and other
mistreatment, based on his disabilities, which included
diabetes and obesity. [See Compl., at ¶¶
30-36]. Mr. Manning was eventually placed on administrative
leave on December 2, 2016. [Id. at ¶ 104].
After Plaintiff learned about the situation from Mr. Manning,
Plaintiff sent an email to Dale Sweigart, stating that he was
“concerned” about the situation with Mr. Manning.
[Id.]. In that email, Plaintiff allegedly noted that
Plaintiff “had complained of unfair treatment due to
his diabetes and weight.” On December 7, 2016,
Defendant terminated Mr. Manning's employment.
[Id. at ¶ 122].
alleges his email regarding Mr. Manning was subsequently
forwarded by Philadelphia-area managers to Plaintiff's
own Connecticut-based managers, including the local HR
representative in Connecticut. [See Compl., at
¶¶ 105-116]. According to Plaintiff, the
Philadelphia-area management team shared his email regarding
Mr. Manning with Plaintiff's local management for the
sole purpose of “further[ing] the Company's plan to
retaliate against Plaintiff Walters in his own employment for
opposing the unlawful conduct directed at Mr. Manning and for
having encouraged Mr. Manning to exercise his rights.”
[Id. at ¶ 116].
contends that, following his complaint regarding Mr.
Manning's treatment, Defendant retaliated against him
through “an unwarranted and pretextual discipline
warning on February 10, 2017 and putting him on a Personal
Development Plan on February 20, 2017.” [Compl., at
¶ 149]. Additionally, Plaintiff claims that he was
scolded by management for reporting the discriminatory
conduct towards Mr. Manning, because Plaintiff “was
going to get the Company sued as a result of sending the
email.” [Id. at ¶¶ 137-143]. On or
about April 10, 2017, Plaintiff was terminated from his
employment with the Safelite location in Connecticut.
[Id. at ¶ 150].
27, 2018, Plaintiff filed his Complaint, alleging that
Defendant violated NJLAD (1) by retaliating against Plaintiff
for complaining about and objecting to discriminatory conduct
towards Mr. Manning; and (2) for terminating Plaintiff for
associating with Mr. Manning. In response, Defendant moves to
dismiss Plaintiff's NJLAD claims under Fed.R.Civ.P.
withstand a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)(quoting
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 662.
“[A]n unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me
accusation” does not suffice to survive a motion to
dismiss. Id. at 678. “[A] plaintiff's
obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his
‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555 (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S.
265, 286 (1986)).
reviewing a plaintiff's allegations, the district court
“must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations
as well as all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from
them, and construe those allegations in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff.” Bistrian v. Levi,
696 F.3d 352, 358 n.1 (3d Cir. 2012). When undertaking this
review, courts are limited to the allegations found in the
complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, matters of
public record, and undisputedly authentic documents that form
the basis of a claim. See In re Burlington Coat ...