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Golub v. Northeastern University

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 18, 2019

DR. J. DAVID GOLUB, Plaintiff,
v.
NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS AND PLAINTIFF'S CROSS-MOTION TO AMEND THE COMPLAINT

          ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Dr. J. David Golub (“Golub”) previously worked part-time at Northeastern University's (“Northeastern”) College of Professional Studies as a Master Teacher and Lead Instructor for the Accounting and Tax Program. In October 2017, Golub was informed that Northeastern would no longer be needing his part-time services as the Master Teacher, because it had hired a new fulltime faculty member. Golub filed the instant complaint in which he alleges that Northeastern's decision to terminate his part-time employment as Master Teacher was age discrimination, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), and constituted a breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory estoppel. [ECF No. 1]. Northeastern has moved to dismiss the complaint, [ECF No. 10], and Golub has cross-moved to amend, [ECF No. 20].

         For the reasons that follow, Northeastern's motion to dismiss [ECF No. 10] is GRANTED, and Golub's cross-motion to amend [ECF No. 20] is DENIED. Counts 1 and 2, which allege violations of the ADEA, are dismissed with prejudice. Golub is given leave to amend his complaint regarding his state law claims, listed in Count 3. Although there appears to be complete diversity, as Golub is domiciled in New Jersey, the complaint fails to establish that there was a contract and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. See [ECF No. 1].

         I. BACKGROUND

         For purposes of this motion, the facts are viewed in the light most favorable to Golub and are drawn from the complaint [ECF No. 1], the proposed amended complaint [ECF No. 21-1], and relevant referenced documents.[1]

         Golub alleges that he started working part-time for Northeastern's College of Professional Studies (“College”) in 2010, where he was a Master Teacher and Lead Instructor for the Accounting and Tax Program, which included a non-benefits eligible stipend of $5, 000 per year. [ECF No. 1 at 1-2; ECF No. 11-5 at 2]. His work included appointment as a part-time lecturer in the College. [ECF No. 21-1 at 37]. The lecturer position was not paid, but rather signified eligibility to receive assignments to teach courses for which Golub would have been compensated. [Id.]. Since 2014, he has applied for a number of academic positions at Northeastern that he believes he is highly qualified for, but has not received any interviews or offers. [Id. at 6].

         On October 8, 2017, Golub received an email from the College informing him that it had concluded a search for a new full-time faculty member and that it would no longer require his part-time services. [Id. at 3; ECF No. 11-1]. Golub alleges that he stopped being compensated in January 2018, instead of receiving payment through August 2018, as he would have under the original Master Teacher offer. [ECF No. 1 at 5].

         Golub completed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) online questionnaire (“Intake Questionnaire”) in February 2018 to inquire about the necessary steps for filing a charge of discrimination. [ECF No. 1 at 7; ECF No. 1-1 at 17]. On February 16, 2018, the EEOC emailed Golub a notice of a scheduled interview. [ECF No. 1-1 at 16]. That notice also included the following relevant language:

ANSWERING THESE QUESTIONS IS NOT THE SAME AS FILING A CHARGE OF DISCRIMINATION.
A charge of discrimination is a signed statement asserting that an organization engaged in employment discrimination. It requests EEOC to take remedial action. The laws enforced by EEOC . . . require you to file a charge before you can file a lawsuit for unlawful discrimination. There are strict time limits for filing a charge.

[Id. (emphasis in original)]. In March 2018, Golub's claim was transferred from the EEOC office in Newark to its office in Boston, because Northeastern was not under the Newark office's jurisdictional authority. [Id. at 15].

         In May 2018, Golub again received an offer for another appointment as a part-time lecturer in the College, [ECF No. 1 at 5; ECF No. 21-1 at 40], but was not offered the Master Teacher position, [ECF No. 1 at 5]. Since May 2018, he has not been assigned any courses to teach and therefore has not received any compensation. [Id.].

         On November 14, 2018, the EEOC informed Golub that he had failed to sign his correspondence and, as a result, no formal charge had been filed. [ECF No. 1-1 at 11]. The EEOC told him that “[t]hese steps are necessary if you wish to file a charge, ” [id. (emphasis in original)], and that he should review and sign the correspondence quickly because of the strict timelines regarding filing a charge, [id.].

         On November 19, 2018, Golub filed his charge with the EEOC, alleging that Northeastern's termination of his part-time employment as a Master Teacher was based on age discrimination in violation of the ADEA. [Id.].

         On December 17, 2018, the EEOC issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights. [Id. at 1, 3]. The notice informed Golub that the EEOC was unable to conclude that his employment was terminated in violation of federal law. [Id. at 1]. It noted that “it [wa]s unlikely that the EEOC would find a violation of federal law on the part of [Northeastern] if it invested additional resources.” [Id.]. Golub asked that the EEOC reconsider its final determination, but the EEOC declined. [ECF No. 1-1 at 7]. Because Golub never filed a charge concerning Northeastern's alleged failure to hire, the “EEOC did not address the age discrimination claim on the basis of [Northeastern's] refusal to interview, discuss, consider or hire for an alternative faculty position.” [ECF No. 1 at 7].

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Golub filed this complaint on March 14, 2019, [ECF No. 1], alleging (1) a violation of the ADEA by Northeastern when it terminated his employment (Count 1); (2) a violation of the ADEA by Northeastern when it refused to hire him for other positions (Count 2); and (3) state law claims including breach of contract, breach of the duty ...


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