The opinion of the court was delivered by: Skretny, District Judge.
Before this Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment
pursuant to Fed.R. Civ.P. 56.
Plaintiff Douglas R. Townsend ("Townsend") sues defendant
Harrison Radiator Division, General Motors Corporation
("Harrison") for Harrison's breach of an implied employment
contract. Although Townsend initiated this lawsuit in state
court, on May 1, 1989, defendant removed this lawsuit to this
Court. This Court has diversity jurisdiction pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1332 and, therefore, New York law supplies the
substantive rule of decision in this case.
In his Complaint, Townsend alleges that portions of
Harrison's personnel policies and procedures handbook, "Working
With GM," created an implied employment contract between
Townsend and Harrison. Townsend alleges that Harrison breached
this contract by discharging him. Although Harrison contends
that Townsend's discharge resulted from falsification of time
reports, Townsend insists that he engaged in no misconduct and
emphasizes that a New York State administrative law judge,
subsequently affirmed by the New York State
Department of Labor, found no credible evidence of misconduct.
Harrison moves for summary judgment, arguing that Townsend
was an employee at will and under New York common law subject
to discharge for any reason. Furthermore, Harrison contends, no
implied employment contract existed between Harrison and
Townsend limiting Harrison's right to discharge Townsend at
will. Finally, notwithstanding its right to discharge Townsend
at will, Harrison claims that Townsend's discharge resulted
after an internal investigation revealed that Townsend had
falsified time reports.
In support of its motion, Harrison submits its Notice of
Motion with exhibits ("H. Notice"); the affidavit of James
Hamilton, a manager with Harrison's Salaried Personnel
Administration ("Hamilton"); a legal memorandum ("H. Memo"); a
reply memorandum ("H. Reply"); a supplemental memorandum
("Supp. Memo"); and a statement of material facts not in
dispute ("H. Fact").
In opposition to Harrison's motion, Townsend submits a
statement of undisputed material facts ("T. Fact"); a
supplemental statement of disputed material facts ("T. Supp.
Fact"); the affidavit of Douglas R. Townsend ("Townsend"); and
the affidavit of Roger Niemel, Esq. ("Niemel").
Conclusion: For the reasons set forth below, this Court
grants Harrison's motion for summary judgment and dismisses
The following material facts are not in dispute.
In 1964, Townsend commenced employment with Harrison. From
1964 until approximately 1975, when Harrison became an
inspection foreman, a collective bargaining agreement governed
Townsend's employment. (T. Fact, ¶ 1).
In 1975-76, Harrison promoted Townsend to inspection foreman,
a supervisory level position. As an inspection foreman,
Townsend did not have an express employment contract and the
collective bargaining agreement no longer provided terms and
conditions of Townsend's employment. Upon his promotion,
Townsend received Harrison's personnel policies and procedures
handbook "Working With GM" ("the Handbook") (Townsend, ¶¶ 2-3).
On each of the days from March 17 through March 20, 1986,
Harrison security guards observed Townsend leaving the plant
before the time Townsend indicated on his time reports for
those days. These security guards did not see Townsend return.
However, several other plant personnel, including one other
security guard, saw Townsend in the plant after Townsend
allegedly left for the day. (Complaint, Exhs. A & B; T. Fact,
Effective March 25, 1986, Harrison discharged Townsend for
falsification of time reports for the week ending March 23,
1986. Harrison officials personally escorted Townsend from the
plant in full view of other plant employees, including some
whom Townsend supervised. (Townsend, ¶ 16).
Shortly after his discharge, Townsend filed for unemployment
benefits with the New York State Department of Labor. On April
23, 1986, a New York State Department of Labor Claims Examiner
denied Townsend unemployment benefits on the grounds that
falsification of time reports constituted misconduct and
disqualified Townsend from receiving such benefits. (Complaint,
On April 30, 1986, Townsend's attorney contacted Harrison by
letter seeking reinstatement for Townsend. On May 27, 1986,
Harrison, by letter, informed Townsend's attorney that Harrison
would ". . . initiate the procedure for using the Open Door
Policy," and that Townsend could ". . . ...