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Yin v. Thermo Fisher Scientific

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 11, 2017

LEI YIN, Plaintiff,


          F. Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court will order that this action be dismissed.

         I. Factual Background

         A. Original Complaint

         On May 5, 2017, Lei Yin, who is proceeding pro se, filed a complaint in which he alleged that his former employer, defendant Thermo Fisher Scientific, was liable for defamation and retaliation. In a memorandum and order dated August 31, 2017, the Court directed him to show cause why the action should not be dismissed for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Court explained that Yin's alleged facts were too generalized to permit an inference that his former employer had violated federal law, thus precluding federal-question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Court further observed that it did not appear that diversity jurisdiction existed under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because both parties were citizens of Massachusetts.

         B. Show-Cause Response

         On September 18, 2017, Yin filed a timely show-cause response containing factual allegations set forth in five numbered sections. On September 25, 2017, he filed supporting exhibits. While the allegations are not a model of clarity, they appear to indicate the following.

         Yin is a 52-year-old United States citizen who immigrated from China. Sometime prior to June 2009, he was hired by Thermo Fisher. He worked as a senior scientist managing a team of four other Thermo Fisher employees, all of whom were also immigrants to the United States. Yin and his team worked on site at “J&J, ” a client of Thermo Fisher. After two months of working on-site at J&J, J&J expressed its satisfaction in writing with the performance of Yin and his team members.

         At some point prior to his completion of that work, Thermo Fisher conducted a formal performance evaluation of Yin and his team. Initially, an employee involved with the review rated the work of Yin and all the members of his team as “poor” and wanted to put them on performance improvement plans. According to Yin, the employee rated Yin and his team based on her “malicious” religious beliefs that “In GOD's eyes, everyone is sinful and needs some improvement.” Show Cause Resp. at 2. Yin refused to sign the evaluation and complained in writing to managers at Thermo Fisher about the review. As a result, Thermo Fisher allegedly issued a new review of Yin's performance, giving him an “above average rating.” Before Yin's contractual assignment to J&J ended, Thermo Fisher presented him with an award to honor his service.

         Thermo Fisher's working site at the J&J office in Lexington later closed (as did the J&J office itself). Thermo Fisher gave Yin and his team 60 days' written notice of the employment termination; Yin and his team members worked “to the last day.” Id.

         Thereafter, Yin and his team members filed for unemployment benefits. Thermo Fisher contested their eligibility. However, on June 26, 2009, the Commonwealth's Department of Unemployment found that Yin was eligible for unemployment benefits.

         Yin then asked Thermo Fisher to provide him with a copy of his personnel file. The documents that he received in response to that request allegedly did not include some papers that he believed had previously been in his personnel file: a review of his work in which he earned an “above average” rating; a review giving him a “poor” rating, which he had rejected; an official record of the performance award he had received; and written confirmation from two project heads at J&J of his completion of assignments. He further contends that Thermo Fisher had added new documents to the file, including an unsigned and very critical review of his work and the nomination form for the performance award he had received.

         Yin alleges that he experienced difficulty in finding permanent employment, although he received many interviews. He found that once he provided his potential employer with a reference list, which included Thermo Fisher, he was not offered employment. He believes that Thermo Fisher was making false and negative statements about him to potential employers, even though Thermo Fisher had agreed to limit its reference to confirming the dates of his employment and his position title. Yin alleges that Thermo Fisher altered his personnel file and gave him poor references in retaliation for pursuing his claim for unemployment compensation.

         C. Order on the ...

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