John E. Kiley, Esq., Kevin J. Smith, Esq., Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP, Ryan M. Duffy, Esq., Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, LLP, New York, NY, for Plaintiff.
Michael A. Orozco, Esq., Bailey & Orozco, L.L.C., Newark, NJ, for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, District Judge.
Ross Stores, Inc. ("Ross Stores", "the Company" or "counterclaim-defendant") is suing Renee Lincks ("Lincks" or "counterclaim-plaintiff"), a former employee of Ross Stores, for damages arising from a breach of her contractual obligations to repay her signing bonus, relocation bonus and relocation expense reimbursements after she voluntarily terminated her employment within the first twenty-four months of being hired by the Company. In her Amended Answer to the Complaint ("Countercl."), Lincks brings one counterclaim against Ross Stores for breach of contract for failing to provide her with a full-time assistant. Ross Stores now moves to dismiss the counterclaim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated below, this motion is granted.
A. The Facts
Ross Stores is in the business of selling apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions at discounted prices in retail stores. Ross Stores recruits and employs Buyers to purchase the needed merchandise at low prices. Lincks is a former Buyer who was employed by Ross Stores from July 26, 2011 until May 25, 2013.
In June 2011, Ross Stores offered Lincks a full-time Buyer position in a formal written employment offer. The offer included: 1) a $25, 000 signing bonus; 2) a $10, 000 relocation bonus; and 3) paid relocation expense reimbursements. The bonuses and relocation expense reimbursements were subject to a two-year repayment condition requiring Lincks to repay Ross Stores the bonuses and relocation reimbursements if she voluntarily ended her employment within the first twenty-four (24) months of her date of hire and/or her receipt of relocation expense reimbursements. Lincks accepted the offer on June 13, 2011 by signing the employment agreement. Ross Stores then paid Lincks the $10, 000 relocation bonus, the $25, 000 signing bonus, and $32, 133.62 in approved relocation expense reimbursements.
On May 9, 2012, Lincks submitted her resignation letter to Ross Stores. Her final date of employment was May 25, 2012. On May 17, 2012, the Director of Human Resources conducted Lincks' exit interview. At this meeting, Ross Stores requested that Lincks repay the $67, 133.62 in combined signing bonus, relocation bonus and relocation expense reimbursements because her resignation came within the first twenty-four months of employment. Lincks requested and was granted an extension of time to July 16, 2012, in which to repay the amount. On May 25, 2012, Ross Stores sent Lincks a letter confirming the new repayment schedule. A second letter was sent on June 28, 2012, reminding Lincks of her repayment deadline. Lincks has not responded to these letters, nor has she repaid the money owed to Ross Stores.
B. The Counterclaim
In her Answer, Lincks asserts that Ross Stores breached its contract by not supplying her with a full-time assistant. Lincks states that part of the offer which induced her to accept the position was the promise of a full-time assistant. Lincks asserts that this was promised to her before her employment contract was signed. Although it was not memorialized in the contract, Lincks allegedly relied on this representation when she signed the contract. For the first month of her employment, Lincks had a full-time assistant. However, Ross Stores soon fired this assistant but promised Lincks that a new assistant would be hired shortly. A new assistant was not hired in the subsequent seven months and Ross Stores eventually told Lincks it would take several more months before hiring a replacement. Upon learning that Ross Stores had no intention of making this a priority, Lincks decided to quit. Lincks' counterclaim alleges breach of contract by Ross Stores because: 1) Ross Stores fired her first assistant without providing Lincks any reason; 2) promised Lincks the prompt hiring of a new full-time assistant; and 3) informed Lincks after seven months that a new assistant would not soon be hired. Lincks alleges that she quit because of the heavy workload she was expected to perform without the help of any support staff.
III. APPLICABLE LAW
A. Motion to ...