United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
case arises from an employment dispute between Athenahealth,
Inc. (“Athena” or “plaintiff”) and
its former employee, Lauren May (“May” or
“defendant”). Athena alleges that May failed to
return, upon her termination, a laptop computer provided to
her by Athena. May counterclaims that she was wrongfully
discharged from her employment.
moves to dismiss four of May's counterclaims for failure
to state a claim for which relief can be granted. For the
reasons that follow, Athena's motion will be allowed, in
part, and denied, in part.
a Delaware corporation with its principle place of business
in Watertown, Massachusetts, is a nationwide provider of
web-based healthcare management services. May began working
for Athena as a market analyst in or about November, 2011, in
the Watertown office. May and Athena entered into an at-will
employment agreement (“the Agreement”). May later
transferred to Athena's Princeton, New Jersey, office and
sometime thereafter began working remotely from her home in
in 2015, Athena reorganized its Access and Awareness Division
and May's position changed to “Senior Growth
Analytics and Operations Associate”. May asserts that
in an effort to convince her to transfer to that position,
Athena's vice president, Jamie Mallinger
(“Mallinger”), promised May that she would have
absolutely nothing to worry about in making the transition to
a different team and continuing working from home.
alleges that in March, 2016, her manager prompted her to
misappropriate the technology, intellectual property and
trade secrets of Decidedly, LLC, a company that provided
Athena access to its system. May expressed her concern to the
manager and her discomfort in fulfilling the request.
Nevertheless, May insists that her manager continued to
pressure her to mirror some of the successful features of the
intellectual property of Decidedly, LLC.
March, 2016, and again in May, 2016, defendant contacted
Athena's senior corporate counsel and expressed her
concerns regarding her manager. Shortly thereafter, counsel
held a meeting with Athena employees addressing May's
concerns. Less than two weeks after that meeting, May's
manager informed her that she could not effectively fulfill
the core requirements of her position while working remotely
and that her continued employment would depend upon her
attendance at her assigned work station. May submits that
this was the first time Athena had raised concerns about her
remote working arrangement. May resigned from her employment
on June 17, 2016.
filed its complaint against May on August 30, 2016. The next
day, it moved for an emergency temporary restraining order
(“TRO”) requesting that May return the laptop she
had kept. A TRO was entered by United States District Judge
F. Dennis Saylor IV on September 2, 2016, directing May to
return the subject computer or otherwise to retain custody
but refrain from using it.
was extended by United States District Judge Indira Talwani
until this session issued a preliminary injunction directing
May to return the computer. On November 2, 2016, Athena moved
the Court to find May in contempt for failure to return the
computer, in violation of the preliminary injunction.
motion was eventually denied as moot because May had
apparently complied with the terms of the injunction.
January, 2017, May filed a motion to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted. That motion was denied in
August, 2017, and in November, 2017, May filed her amended
answer and amended counterclaim. In her amended counterclaim,
May alleges that Athena's actions constituted 1) breach
of contract (Count I), 2) breach of the implied covenant of
good faith and fair dealing (Count II), 3) wrongful discharge