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Scinto v. Ocean Link Co. Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 11, 2018

ERNIE SCINTO Plaintiff,
v.
OCEAN LINK CO., LTD, SHANDEX CORPORATION, Defendants.

          SUMMARY DENIAL OF DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          HON. VANESSA L. BRYANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff filed the instant action on September 12, 2017, alleging unlawful discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”), interference and retaliation under the state and federal Family and Medical Leave Acts (“FMLA” and “CTFMLA”), as well as breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligent misrepresentation, and negligent inducement. Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.

         I. Factual Background

         The following facts are based on the allegations in the Complaint, which are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff for the purpose of a motion to dismiss. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Defendants Shandex Corporation (“Shandex”) and Ocean Link Co., Ltd. (“Ocean Link”) (together, “Defendants”) are New Jersey corporations with headquarters in New Jersey. Cmplt. at ¶ 3. The Defendants conduct business in Connecticut and maintain a corporate office in Guilford. Id. The Defendants “operate as a single employer because they maintain the same corporate headquarters both here in Connecticut and in New Jersey, share the same management, share the same human resources department, have the same shareholders and have the same email communications system.” Id. The “combined defendant affiliate companies employ more than 75 employees.” Id. at ¶ 54.

         Plaintiff is a Connecticut resident who was employed by Defendants as a full-time salesperson beginning on January 4, 2016. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 10. The job posting to which Plaintiff responded stated the salesperson hired would be expected to do “a lot of B2B cold calling” to effectuate sales, but would be provided “leads [which] are well qualified and generally well received.” Id. at ¶ 8. The starting salary was $35, 000 plus commission, which the job description stated would be between $1, 500 and $5, 000 annually, and benefits. Id. The salesperson would receive an automatic $5, 000 salary increase in year two. Id. When Plaintiff interviewed with Defendants' owner, Stewart Yao, Mr. Yao offered Plaintiff a position as a sales associate with a starting base salary of $35, 000, consistent with the job posting. Id. at ¶ 10. However, Mr. Yao stated Plaintiff “should expect to earn at least $60, 000 during the first year based on his past sales experience.” Id. Mr. Yao also stated Plaintiff's healthcare benefits would begin after a 90-day review period. Id. Defendants “specifically agreed to the terms outlined” in the job posting at Plaintiff's interview, including the $5, 000 raise in year two. Id. at ¶ 67.

         Upon beginning work as a salesperson for Defendants, Plaintiff discovered that the “few leads he was given were to companies that had been called previously by an employee that had been terminated about two months after Mr. Scinto started.” Id. at ¶ 11. His calls were not well-received, and the leads provided by Defendants did not result in sales. Id. In addition, Plaintiff was frequently asked to solicit clients in different markets due to evolving laws regarding international trade and Defendants' conflicts of interest. Id. at ¶ 12. Plaintiff found it difficult to continually change markets, as each new market required him to “start all over again” with “different types of companies.” Id.

         Despite his difficulty, after his 90-day probationary period, Plaintiff was told he was doing well, and that his health insurance coverage would begin on April 1, 2016. Id. at ¶ 13. When he did not receive health insurance as scheduled, he followed up with Defendants, and Defendants responded by instructing Plaintiff to “do research in order to find health insurance on his own.” Id. After “many back and forth communications, Mr. Scinto was provided health insurance in June 2016 with an insurer found by [Defendants].” Id.

         In his first year of work, Plaintiff earned $834.72 in commission. Id. at ¶ 14. Plaintiff expressed concern about his sales volume, but sales manager Dan Murray instructed him to “continue in the direction that was laid out.” Id. at 5.

         In November 2016, Plaintiff was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was told he would require surgery in February or March of 2017. Id. at ¶ 15. The surgery would necessitate four to six weeks of recovery. Id. Plaintiff informed Mr. Murray; Mr. Murray did not mention how Plaintiff's medical condition would impact his work. Id.

         On December 20, 2016, Mr. Murray told Plaintiff that Mr. Yao instructed that Plaintiff was to take on a new role based on his low sales volume in 2016. Id. at ¶ 20. In the new position, Plaintiff would no longer solicit business, but would instead be “in charge of servicing and supporting Mr. Murray's customer accounts, and would receive ten percent of his commission on the resulting sales.” Id. Plaintiff accepted the new position. Id.

         On December 30, 2016, Mr. Yao and Mr. Wong, Defendants' founder, held Plaintiff's year-end review. Id. at ¶¶ 17-18. At that meeting, Plaintiff asked whether he would be allowed to return to work after he recovered from his surgery, emphasized that he did not expect to be paid during his absence, and “made sure the company was aware that he had made up the time he had lost due to absences for doctor appointments.” Id. at ¶ 18. Mr. Yao and Mr. Wong did not answer Plaintiff's questions about how his surgery would impact his job security, and did not provide any feedback on Plaintiff's job performance. Id.

         On January 1, 2017, Plaintiff learned he would not receive the agreed upon $5, 000 raise, and emailed Mr. Yao and Mr. Murray “expressing his disappointment.” Id. at ¶ 19. Later that month, Plaintiff informed Mr. Murray that his surgery was scheduled for March 14, 2017. Id. at ¶ 20.

         On February 6, 2017, Plaintiff asked Mr. Murray for job performance feedback, and Mr. Murray “said that he had told Mr. Yao that Mr. Scinto was doing great job in his new position.” Id. at ¶ 21. Consistent with that statement, Plaintiff asserts he “received nothing but positive reviews and comments about his work performance” through the course of his employment. Id. at ¶ 23. However, on February 28, 2017, Mr. Murray terminated Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 22. Mr. Murray stated “it just isn't working out, ” and did not explain what if anything had changed since his positive feedback earlier that month. Id. Mr. Murray indicated that Plaintiff would receive his monthly paycheck in March and his health insurance would extend through April 30, 2017. Id. Plaintiff's health insurance continued as promised, but Plaintiff never received his final paycheck. Id. at ¶ 25. Plaintiff asserts he was terminated not due to poor performance, but because of his disability and surgery. Id. at ¶ 26.

         Plaintiff challenged his termination with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”) and United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Id. at ¶ 4. On July 17, 2017, Plaintiff received a notice of right to sue from the EEOC, and on August 10, 2017, he received a release of jurisdiction from the CHRO. Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 5-6. ...


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