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Melker v. San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


July 18, 2008

PAUL MELKER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA RAPID TRANSIT DISTRICT DEFENDANT

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maxine M. Chesney United States District Judge

MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; REMANDING STATE LAW CLAIM

Before the Court is defendant San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District's motion for summary judgment, filed May 21, 2008. Plaintiff Paul Melker has filed opposition, to which defendant has replied. Having read and considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the motion,*fn1 the Court rules as follows.

1. Defendant is entitled to summary judgment in its favor on plaintiff's Second Cause of Action, by which plaintiff alleges a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act:

a. To the extent the Second Cause of Action is based on a claim that plaintiff was subjected to disparate work assignments in 2003 and 2004 because of his race, gender, and/or in retaliation for engaging in activity protected under Title VII, (see Nuetzel Decl. Ex. C at 183:24-185:23; Wong Decl. ¶ 4), the claim is, for the reasons stated by defendant, barred by the statute of limitations. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e)(1) (providing "charge under [Title VII] shall be filed within one hundred and eighty days after the alleged unlawful employment practice occurred); see Compl. Ex. B (charge based on 2003/2004 work assignments filed January 26, 2007).*fn2

b. To the extent the Second Cause of Action is based on a claim that defendant's May 2005 termination of plaintiff's employment was in violation of Title VII, plaintiff's claim fails. Defendant's stated reasons -- that plaintiff, after having been given the opportunity to participate in defendant's "Substance Abuse Program," failed to comply with the provisions thereof and failed to return to work within the time provided thereafter, (see Saget Decl. ¶¶ 7-12) -- are non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory in nature, see Fuller v. Frank, 916 F. 2d 558, 560-62 (9th Cir. 1990) (holding defendant's termination of plaintiff for failure to comply with terms of agreement allowing him to take leave to obtain treatment for alcoholism was legitimate and non-discriminatory), and plaintiff has not offered sufficient evidence to support a finding that such reasons were pretextual. Although an arbitrator, after conducting a hearing in April 2006, found there was "confusion" about the date plaintiff was required to return to work,*fn3 and, consequently, concluded plaintiff should be afforded the "benefit of the doubt" and reinstated to his former position, (see Nuetzel Decl. Ex. A at 17-18), such finding is insufficient to create a triable issue of fact as to the issue of pretext, and plaintiff offers no evidence to support a finding that defendant's stated reason was not the actual reason for the termination, other than his conclusory assertions to that effect. See Hernandez v. Spacelabs Medical Inc., 343 F. 3d 1107, 1115 (9th Cir. 2003) ("We are not concerned with the correctness or wisdom of the reason given for the adverse employment decision, but only with whether the proffered reason was the real reason for plaintiff's termination and not a pretext for retaliation.") (internal quotation, alterations and citation omitted); see, e.g., Gill v. Reorganized School Dist. R-6, 32 F. 3d 376, 378-79 (8th Cir. 1994) (holding, where defendant stated it terminated plaintiff's employment because it believed plaintiff used "offensive racial" language at work, and plaintiff denied such act, plaintiff failed to create triable issue of fact as to pretext where plaintiff offered no evidence showing defendant did not "honestly believe in the reason given for [the] decision").*fn4

c. To the extent the Second Cause of Action is based on a claim that defendant, after it reinstated plaintiff in August 2006, subjected plaintiff to discriminatory and/or retaliatory treatment with respect to either the position to which he was assigned after his reinstatement or his pay rate, plaintiff's claim fails. Defendant's stated reasons -- that the arbitrator, not defendant, determined the particular position to which plaintiff was to be reinstated, (see Nuetzel Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. B), and that plaintiff was compensated in conformity with the relevant collective bargaining agreement, (see Wong Decl. ¶¶ 9, 10) -- are non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory in nature, and plaintiff has not offered sufficient evidence to support a finding that defendant's stated reasons were pretextual.*fn5

2. The instant action was removed from state court on the basis of a federal question. The sole remaining claim, the First Cause of Action, alleges a claim under state law.*fn6 Where a district court has granted summary judgment on the federal claims in an action over which it has federal question jurisdiction, the district court may properly decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over any remaining state law claims. See Bryant v. Adventist Health System/West, 289 F. 3d 1162, 1169 (9th Cir. 2002); see 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) (providing district court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction where "district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction"). Here, the Court will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining claim.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above:

1. Defendant's motion for summary judgment is hereby GRANTED in part; specifically, defendant shall have judgment in its favor as against plaintiff on the Second Cause of Action;

2. To the extent defendant's motion for summary judgment seeks judgment in its favor on the First Cause of Action, the motion is DENIED without prejudice; and

3. The First Cause of Action is hereby REMANDED to the Superior Court of California, in and for the County of Alameda.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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