United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Chancellor Su and Pearll Clemente worked for AT&T at its
store in Fort Lee, New Jersey. In 2018, AT&T fired them
after it conducted a nationwide investigation into
allegations of improper sales practices by its employees. Su
and Clemente sued AT&T, claiming that they had been
wrongfully terminated. Now before the Court is defendant
AT&T's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (DE 4). For the following reasons, the
motion is GRANTED.
Chancellor Su worked for over twenty years at the Fort Lee
AT&T store. (Compl. ¶ 7). Plaintiff Pearll Clemente
also worked at die same store for several years. (Compl.
¶ 8). Both were loyal and exemplary employees. (Compl.
¶¶ 7 & 8).
approximately July 2016, AT&T acquired the satellite TV
provider DirecTV and later that year, it launched a service
known as "DirecTV Now," which allows customers to
live-stream TV through AT&T's wireless networks.
(Compl. ¶¶ 9 & 10). To increase the number of
DirecTV Now subscribers, AT&T in 2017 began a nationwide
campaign of selling the service directly to its wireless
customers when they signed up for new phone lines or upgraded
devices. (Compl. ¶ 11). Employees were told to sign up
customers "at all costs." (Compl. ¶ 11).
Before it implemented this "sell now and ask questions
later" approach, AT&T neither instructed its
employees how to sell DirecTV Now nor advised them what sales
tactics it deemed permissible under its corporate policies.
(Compl. ¶ 12).
and supervisors instructed Su and Clemente, as well as other
AT&T employees, to use fake names and email addresses to
create unauthorized accounts for customers who resisted their
DirecTV Now up-sells. (Compl. ¶ 13). They also
encouraged Su and Clemente to offer discounts on accessories
in exchange for DirecTV Now subscriptions and to offer
DirecTV Now subscriptions to customers who had accrued
data-overage charges. (Compl. ¶ 14).
March 2018, based on AT&T's perception of the use of
improper sales tactics, the company began investigating the
practices of the employees responsible for selling DirecTV
Now subscriptions. (Compl. ¶ 15). Su and Clemente told
the AT&T investigators that they had been following the
orders of their managers and supervisors when selling DirecTV
Now subscriptions, but both were fired as a result of the
investigation. (Compl. ¶ 16). Both have been unable to
find comparable positions since then. (Compl. ¶ 17).
24, 2019 Su and Clemente sued in New Jersey state court. (DE
1 at 11). Their complaint asserted one count of common-law
wrongful termination, arguing that the "such termination
. . . was in violation of an established rule of public
policy as enumerated by the legislature, an administrative
rule, regulation or decision, judicial decision and/or some
other established rule of public policy and /or was otherwise
in violation of public policy." (Compl. ¶ 21). On
July 29, AT&T removed the case to federal court on
diversity grounds, see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a) &
1446(a). (DE 1). AT&T filed this motion to dismiss on
August 19. (DE 4).
this matter involves a controversy between citizens of
different states and the amount in controversy is alleged to
exceed the sum of $75, 000, this Court has jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). New Jersey substantive
law will apply. See Erie R.R. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S.
64, 78 (1938).
Standard of Review
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal
of a complaint, in whole or in part, if it fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. The defendant, as the
moving party, bears the burden of showing that no claim has
been stated. Animal Sci. Prods., Inc. v. China Minmetals
Corp.,654 F.3d 462, 469 n.9 (3d Cir. 2011). For the
purposes of a motion to dismiss, the facts alleged in the
complaint are accepted as true and all reasonable inferences