United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge
case involves an employment dispute between Michaeline Grol
(“Grol” or “plaintiff”), a sales
representative, and Safelite Group, Inc.
(“Safelite” or “defendant”), an auto
glass replacement and repair company. Plaintiff asserts that
defendant 1) discriminated against her on the basis of age,
in violation of M.G.L. c. 151B § 4, 2) breached their
employment contract and 3) breached the covenant of good
faith and fair dealing.
case was originally filed in the Massachusetts Superior Court
for Bristol County but was removed by defendant to this Court
on diversity grounds. Plaintiff is domiciled in Massachusetts
while defendant is incorporated in Delaware and has its
principal place of business in Ohio.
moves for summary judgment on all claims. Because genuine
issues of material fact exist as to each claim,
defendant’s motion for summary judgment will be denied.
Grol plaintiff was a sales representative for Giant Glass, a
glass repair and replacement company for nearly 20 years. In
January, 2013, Safelite acquired Giant Glass and retained
plaintiff, then 53 years old, as a sales representative. At a
meeting in January, 2013, Tom Feeney, CEO of Safelite,
indicated that Giant Glass employees would be entitled to one
year of severance if they left the company. Defendant agreed
to continue plaintiff’s employment under terms that
plaintiff proposed, including 1) her weekly draw at the same
rate that she had received from Giant Glass, 2) a 13%
commission on 80% of her total sales and 3) a monthly car
allowance of $700. Grol contends that, in a series of emails
with Chad Flowers, Regional Vice President of Safelite
(“Flowers”), the defendant agreed to certain
additional terms of employment.
signed a retention bonus agreement which provided for the
payment of $50,000 in three installments payable in 2013,
2014 and 2015. That agreement provided that Grol would not
receive any unpaid portion of that bonus if she was
terminated “for cause” and was not an active
associate at the time of payout. Plaintiff also executed an
agreement with defendant providing that her employment was
at-will and that she was subject to a non-compete clause.
That agreement made no reference to commission-based
compensation or to retention of Giant Glass sales accounts.
October, 2013, Safelite announced a plan to unify the
Safelite and Giant Glass employee teams that included moving
all sales representatives to commission-based pay calculated
at 11% of 80% of their total sales. Grol expressed her
dissatisfaction with that plan to Feeney and Doug Herron, CFO
of Safelite. She complained that paying all sales
representatives the same commission rate would make “no
January, 2014, Flowers and Regional Sales Manager Dean
Drinkwater (“Drinkwater”) informed Grol that her
employment was terminated. The parties dispute whether
Flowers and Drinkwater told Grol that she was being
terminated for cause due to alleged inappropriate and
unprofessional behavior. Grol contends that she “was
completely blindsided” by the termination.
parties also dispute whether, at the time of her termination,
Grol’s accounts had been transferred to other
salespersons. Defendant maintains that no such transfer had
occurred but plaintiff contends that Safelite transferred
more than one third of her sales accounts between December,
2013 and January, 2014. Grol submits that those accounts were
transferred to sales representatives who were at least seven
years younger than she was.
filed her complaint in Bristol County Superior Court in
August, 2016, which defendant removed to this Court in
September, 2016. Pending before the Court is
defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
role of summary judgment is “to pierce the pleadings
and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a
genuine need for trial.” Mesnick v. Gen. Elec.
Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991). The burden is on
the moving party to show, through the pleadings, discovery
and affidavits, “that there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A fact is
material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine issue
of material fact exists where the evidence with respect to
the material fact in dispute “is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
moving party has satisfied its burden, the burden shifts to
the non-moving party to set forth specific facts showing that
there is a genuine, triable issue. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324 (1986). The Court must view
the entire record in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party and indulge all reasonable inferences in
that party's favor. O’Connor v. Steeves,
994 F.2d 905, 907 (1st Cir. 1993). Summary judgment is
appropriate if, after viewing the record in the non-moving
party's favor, the Court determines that no genuine issue
of material fact exists and that the moving party is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law.
Count I – Violation of M.G.L. c. 151B § 4 ...