appear to set forth limited information, policies, or practices under specific situations.
For example, one of the provisions Meskel cites establishes a ninety-day probationary period for new employees during which time employees "may be discharged at any time without recourse" and may not "utilize vacation, sick or personal time." (Meskel dep. Ex. E, at 1.)
The Court does not find, as Meskel does, a negative implication that, after the probationary period, VIPCS limited its common law right to discharge employees without cause. Another provision upon which Meskel relies states that "any employee guilty of misconduct or unsatisfactory performance will be dismissed." Yet another reads "any employee who is terminated will be paid for accrued vacation time." (Meskel dep. Ex. E, at 6.) Again, neither these, nor the other provisions upon which Meskel relies, imply any limitation on VIPCS's ability to discharge employees without cause. Thus, Meskel has failed to establish an express written policy upon which he relied.
Also, to sustain his claim, Meskel must show that he detrimentally relied on VIPCS's policy. Tucker v. Battery Park City Parks Corp., 227 A.D.2d 318, 642 N.Y.S.2d 891 (1st Dep't 1996); Murchison v. Comm. Counseling and Mediation Servs., Inc., 646 N.Y.S.2d 10 (2d Dep't 1996); Kelley v. New York State Martin Luther King, Jr. Comm'n and Institute for Nonviolence, 644 N.Y.S.2d 862 (3d Dep't 1996). Moreover, oral assurances by an employer's management do not alter an otherwise at-will employment relationship. See Struwe v. R.E. Chapin Mfg. Works, Inc., 161 A.D.2d 1179, 555 N.Y.S.2d 970 (4th Dep't 1990) (verbal assurance by employer's president insufficient to alter at-will status); Diskin v. Consolidated Edison Co., 135 A.D.2d 775, 522 N.Y.S.2d 888 (2d Dep't 1987) (verbal assurance by upper management insufficient to alter at-will status). Meskel's conclusory and self-serving assertion that he relied on VIPCS's alleged policy (Meskel dep. 59-60), unsupported by any specific detriment, and his claim that Sookdar orally assured him that VIPCS would not discharge him without just cause, are insufficient to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact as to the element of reliance.
Meskel has also failed to demonstrate an issue of material fact as to whether VIPCS was bound to follow or failed to follow any specific procedures prior to terminating Meskel's employment. VIPCS's personnel manual merely contains an informal grievance procedure, which allows employees "who [are] under the impression that she/he [are] unfairly treated" to "request a meeting with the Administrative Director to voice his/her grievance." (Meskel dep. Ex. E, at 5.) Even assuming that VIPCS were obligated to apply this procedure, it does not, as Meskel apparently contends, require particular pretermination review procedures.
C. The Court Lacks Jurisdiction Over The Remaining Claims
Jurisdiction in this case is predicated on diversity of citizenship, which requires the amount in controversy to "exceed the sum or value of $ 50,000, exclusive of interest and costs." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The amount in controversy is ascertained from the pleadings at the time the action is commenced. Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. v. American Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Chicago, 93 F.3d 1064, 1070 (2d Cir. 1996).
In a case premised solely on diversity jurisdiction, if one claim is dismissed, the district court may, in its discretion, dismiss the remaining claims if they fail to meet the threshold amount in controversy. See Keles v. Yale University, 889 F. Supp. 729, 735 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) (dismissing contract claim for failure to plead sufficient amount in controversy after dismissing fraud claim on the merits), aff'd, 101 F.3d 108 (2d Cir. 1996); see also Shanaghan v. Cahill, 58 F.3d 106 (4th Cir. 1995) (holding that, under 28 U.S.C. § 1367, once basis for federal diversity jurisdiction disappears, court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over remaining state law claims).
Meskel claims that he was denied $ 1,538.40 in vacation pay, $ 8,250.00 in employer contributions to his annuity account, and two weeks of severance pay. Meskel's biweekly gross pay was $ 1,923.08. At most, the remaining amount in controversy is $ 11,711.48, far short of the threshold requirement. VIPCS's counterclaim is for $ 3,510.00. Thus, the Court, in its discretion, declines to exercise jurisdiction over the parties' remaining claims, without prejudice to their reassertion in an appropriate state court.
For the reasons set forth above, defendants' motions for summary judgment dismissing Meskel's breach of contract claim are granted. The Court declines to exercise jurisdiction over the parties' remaining claims. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment of dismissal.
Dated: New York, New York
January 9, 1997
LAWRENCE M. McKENNA