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Betschart v. Gordon Trucking

August 28, 2008

ARNOLD BETSCHART, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GORDON TRUCKING, INCORPORATED, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT GORDON TRUCKING, INC.'S MOTION TO STRIKE

(Doc. 8)

1. INTRODUCTION

Defendant Gordon Trucking ("Gordon Trucking") moves to strike portions of Plaintiff Arnold Betschart's ("Betschart") complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f); alleging it contains numerous factual allegations which are immaterial and irrelevant to plaintiff's claims, and which unnecessarily and prejudicially expand the potential scope of litigation in this case. In his complaint, Betschart alleges employment discrimination due to age under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA") 29 U.S.C. § 623 et seq. and California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") Cal. Gov't. Code. § 12940 et seq., employment discrimination due to disability under the Americans with Disability Act ("ADA") 42 U.S.C. § 12112 et seq. and FEHA Cal. Gov't. Code. § 12940 et seq., violation of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA") 29 U.S.C. § 1140, and alleges a wrongful adverse personnel action claim against public policy. Betschart opposes the motion to strike on grounds that certain allegations are relevant. Oral Argument was heard on July 21, 2008.

2. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

Betschart filed his complaint on February 2, 2008. (Doc. 1, Compl.) On March 31, 2008 Gordon Trucking filed a Motion to Strike. (Doc. 8, Mot. Strike.) Betschart filed an initial Opposition to the Motion to Strike on May 2, 2008. (Doc. 12, Opp'n.) Betschart then amended his Opposition to the Motion to Strike on May 2, 2008. (Doc. 13, Am. Opp'n.) Gordon Trucking replied to the Opposition on May 12, 2008. (Doc. 14, Reply.)

B. Factual History

Arnold Betschart is a United States citizen and resident of California, born on March 25, 1948. (Compl. ¶ 6.) Betschart alleges on June 6, 2007, he was involuntarily terminated by Gordon Trucking after employment with Gordon Trucking for a total of over 18 years. (Id.)

Betschart alleges Gordon Trucking Incorporated is a corporation with its headquarters in the State of Washington, with a work location in Turlock, California which is a judicial district of this Court, and additionally, is where Betschart was employed at the time of his involuntary termination from employment. (Compl. ¶ 7.)

Betschart alleges there was a gap in his total employment with Gordon Trucking. He alleges he worked for Gordon Trucking for a period from August 8, 1988 as California Director of Sales and subsequently Director of Operations in Washington until April 15, 1994, when he resigned due to family reasons and moved back to California. (Compl. ¶¶ 8, 9, 10.) On February 13, 1995, Betschart was rehired to be Director of Regional Operations for a new terminal in Turlock, California. (Compl. ¶ 11.) He worked there until May 31, 2006, when he was involuntarily moved into a position as director of maintenance/operations. (Compl. ¶ 12.) Betschart later was terminated on June 6, 2007. (Compl. ¶ 20.)

1. Allegations of Age Discrimination

Betschart alleges in February 2001, he won a significant work achievement award from Target Corporation for the year 2000, and was invited to an awards dinner. (Compl. ¶ 28.) Betschart was willing to stop a planned vacation to go but was told by a Gordon Trucking executive "At your age and your longevity, you don't need to go." (Id.) Betschart alleges this is a markedly different stance from that Gordon Trucking has taken toward other employees who have won this same award, as they have consistently been allowed to go to the awards dinner at Gordon Trucking's expense, and have been flown to it on the corporate jet. (Id.)

Betschart claims he was discriminated against by an involuntary change of his company position on May 31, 2006. (Compl. ¶ 12.) He learned of this change when Steve Gordon, Chief Operating Officer of Gordon Trucking who is in his 30s, stated to the non-driving staff in Turlock: "It is time for the old guys to step down and let the younger employees take charge." (Compl. ¶ 13.) When Betschart responded with "Watch the old guy stuff," Steve Gordon replied "It's time for the senior management to step aside and allow the younger employees to take charge." (Id.) Betschart was then replaced as director of regional operations by an employee who was in his 30s. (Id.)

Betschart alleges discrimination occurred in September 2006, when he found out his prior position's compensation was lost. (Id.) Although, his base salary remained the same, he lost the additional incentive package he had previously been eligible for and had received. (Compl. ¶¶ 12, 15.)

Additionally, in May 2007, Betschart alleges he was assigned a younger "consultant" who questioned Betschart about when Betschart would retire. (Compl. ¶¶ 16, 17.) The following month, Betschart was terminated and his job was given to the "consultant," who was approximately 33 years old. (Id.)

Betschart was terminated on June 6, 2007. Two younger executives told Betschart they were going to have a cup of coffee with him at Starbuck's. (Compl. ¶ 20.) There, he was informed of his termination, and that possession of his company car was immediately revoked. (Id.) The two executives drove Betschart home, where they required him to immediately clean out his company car in his driveway in full view of his family and neighbors. (Id.) Betschart was told to return later to work to pick up his belongings. (Id.) When he returned, he was not allowed to go back to his office, and was given his already boxed up belongings. (Id.)

Betschart alleges he received a positive performance review for the period from 2003 into 2004 which supported a 2005 bonus. (Compl. ¶¶ 22, 23.) He alleges in June/July 2006, shortly after being moved into the new position, he received a slightly more negative performance review. (Compl. ¶ 24.) Finally, upon termination on or about June 6, 2007, Betschart alleges he received a very negative performance review for the period from June 2, 2006 through June 1, 2007. (Compl. ¶¶ 25, 26.) This was Betschart's first performance evaluation in his new position, and Betschart was given no time to correct any perceived alleged deficiencies, as he was terminated. (Compl. ¶¶ 25, 26.)

Betschart received no warning letters or any type of progressive discipline prior to his termination. (Compl. ¶ 27.) He alleges he was shocked he was being terminated and believed the termination made no sense based on his pay raises over the years, long service to the company, lack of any progressive discipline, lack of any warning concerning termination, and positive feedback he had received over the years. (Id.)

2. Allegations of Disability Discrimination

Additionally, Betschart alleges disability discrimination. Among other things, Betschart claims Gordon Trucking discriminated against him due to the high cost of the healthcare his family required. Gordon Trucking paid most medical costs for Betschart, his wife, and his stepson through the health plan it provided. (Compl. ¶ 29.)

In 1994, Betschart had heart surgery. (Compl. ΒΆ 30.) He alleges when he came back to work, Larry Gordon, President and CEO of Gordon Trucking, stated to someone in Betschart's presence that he had to hire Betschart back because "he had spent 50-plus grand for ...


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