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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Giumarra Vineyards

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


July 1, 2010

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GIUMARRA VINEYARDS, CORPORATION, AND DOES 1-10, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.

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

Discovery Cut-Off: 6/30/11

Non-Dispositive Motion

Filing Deadline: 7/15/11

SCHEDULING CONFERENCE ORDER

Hearing Date: 8/19/11 9:00 Ctrm. 8

Deadline: 7/29/11 Dispositive Motion Filing

Dispositive Motion Hearing Date: 8/29/11 10:00 Ctrm. 3

7/6/11 10:30 Ctrm. 8 Settlement Conference Date:

Pre-Trial Conference Date: 10/3/11 11:00 Ctrm. 3

Ctrm. 3 (JT-15 days) Trial Date: 11/15/11 9:00

I. Date of Scheduling Conference

July 1, 2010.

III. Summary of Pleadings.

1. On or about July of 2007, Defendant engaged in unlawful employment practices at their Edison, California facilities in violation of Section 703(a) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). Defendant tolerated Charging Party Maribel Ochoa being subjected to a hostile work environment based on her sex (female).

2. Maribel Ochoa was subjected to unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature by a co-worker. That conduct included, but was not limited to, repeated sexual advances; graphic requests for her to have sex with him; and offensive sexual comments such as telling her that he had a large penis and that he wanted to stick it in her.

3. The sexual conduct by the co-worker was unwelcome. Maribel Ochoa always rejected his advances and made significant efforts to avoid the co-worker. As explained below, Maribel Ochoa also demonstrated the conduct was unwelcome when she attempted to complain to Defendant's management in order to have the conduct stopped.

4. The conduct was sufficiently severe and pervasive to create a hostile and abusive work environment. The conduct was pervasive as it occurred on an almost daily basis. The conduct was severe as it included graphic requests that Maribel Ochoa engage in sexual acts with the co-worker and highly offensive statements by the co-worker regarding his penis and how he wanted to stick it in her. The fact that Maribel Ochoa was seventeen years old at the time the co-worker was making such vulgar remarks to her, heightens the severity of the conduct.

5. Defendant is liable for the sexual harassment by Maribel Ochoa's co-worker as the claimants complained to Defendant's management of the harassment, yet Defendants failed to take any effective, remedial action at all.

6. On or about July 20, 2007, Defendants engaged in unlawful employment practices at its Edison, California facilities in violation of Section 704(a) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a), when they retaliated against Charging Parties Maribel Ochoa, Delfina Ochoa, Jose Ochoa, or alleged similarly-situated individual Guadalupe Martinez (claimants) for engaging in a protected activity.

7. All four claimants engaged in a protected activity. On or about July 19, 2007 all four claimants complained to Defendant's management officials regarding the sexual harassment to which Maribel Ochoa was being subjected.

8. The claimants were all subjected to an adverse employment action when they were summarily terminated on July 20, 2007.

9. Defendant terminated all four claimants in retaliation for their opposition to the unlawful sexual harassment in their workplace. The terminations occurred less than 24 hours after the complaints were made and well in advance of the end of the growing season the claimants were scheduled to work through.

None of the claimants were given any reason for the abrupt terminations and no other similarly situated farm workers were discharged at that time and in that manner.

10. The EEOC seeks economic damages; compensatory damages; punitive damages; injunctive relief; and its taxable costs incurred in bringing this action. The EEOC seeks economic damages suffered by Maribel Ochoa, Delfina Ochoa, and Jose Ochoa, and Guadalupe Martinez. Specifically, the EEOC seeks their lost wages suffered as a direct result of Defendant's retaliatory discharge during July 2007. During this time, the claimants were earning approximately $7.50 to $7.75/hour. The EEOC seeks the difference in wages between what they would have earned but for the discharges and what they actually did earn. All the information necessary to make a precise calculation of those economic losses is in Defendant's exclusive possession and control. Upon receipt of such evidence, the EEOC will supplement its response in this regard. In addition, the EEOC seeks to recover prejudgment interest on all the identified claimants' economic losses calculated at the relevant IRS interest rate for underpayment of taxes and compounded quarterly, and a positive letter of reference for potential future employers.

11. Furthermore, the EEOC seeks compensatory damages for the emotional distress (garden-variety), pain, suffering, humiliation, frustration and inconvenience the four identified claimants suffered as a direct result of the discriminatory conduct complained of in this lawsuit. The EEOC seeks punitive damages due to Defendant's malice and reckless indifference towards their federally protected rights, and to deter any such future unlawful conduct. Accordingly, the EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages in the combined maximum amount permitted by federal statute, i.e., $300,000.00 plus economic damages.

12. Lastly, the EEOC seeks injunctive and equitable relief as reflected in its Complaint to ensure Defendant's future compliance with Title VII including, but not limited to, the implementation and/or revision of its anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation policies in languages best understood by its workforce, the hiring of a professional EEOC consultant, a notice posting in the workplace, periodic monitoring reports to the EEOC, and mandatory training for management and employees regarding their rights and responsibilities under Title VII.

13. Defendant denies the EEOC's allegations entirely. Defendant denies that Maribel Ochoa was in any way sexually harassed or subjected to a hostile work environment based on sex while at Giumarra. In addition, Defendant denies that Charging Parties Maribel Ochoa, Delfina Ochoa, Jose Ochoa (collectively "Charging Parties"), or alleged similarly-situated individual Guadalupe Martinez ("Martinez"), complained to anyone at Giumarra regarding the allegations in EEOC's Complaint, and denies that they were in any way retaliated against. Instead, each of these individuals voluntarily quit their employment at the company. Defendant denies that plaintiff EEOC, Charging Parties, or Martinez are in any way entitled to damages, and denies that Plaintiff EEOC is entitled to injunctive and equitable relief.

IV. Orders Re Amendments To Pleadings.

1. Presently, the EEOC does not anticipate amending its Complaint.

2. Defendant has answered the EEOC's Complaint and does not presently intend to amend its Answer.

3. The proposed Intervenors have submitted a proposed Complaint-in-Intervention which includes supplemental claims under state law including discrimination and retaliation.

V. Factual Summary.

A. Admitted Facts Which Are Deemed Proven Without Further Proceedings.

1. The parties agree that Charging Parties Maribel Ochoa, Delfina Ochoa, Jose Ochoa, and alleged similarly-situated Plaintiff, individual Guadalupe Martinez, were employed at Giumarra Vineyards at times alleged in the complaint.

2. Giumarra Vineyards Corporation is a corporation formed under the laws of the State of California.

B. Contested Facts.

1. All remaining facts are contested.

VI. Legal Issues.

A. Uncontested. 1. Jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.

2. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391 and 28 U.S.C. § 1343.

3. In the event intervention is granted, and the proposed Complaint-in-Intervention filed, the supplemental claims shall be governed by the substantive law of the State of California.

B. Contested

1. All legal issues asserted in the Complaint, Answer, affirmative defenses, and proposed Complaint-in-Intervention are disputed.

VII. Consent to Magistrate Judge Jurisdiction

1. The parties have not consented to transfer the case to the Magistrate Judge for all purposes, including trial.

VIII. Corporate Identification Statement.

1. Any non-governmental corporate party to any action in this court shall file a statement identifying all its parent corporations and listing any entity that owns 10% or more of the party's equity securities. A party shall file the statement with its initial pleading filed in this court and shall supplement the statement within a reasonable time of any change in the information.

IX. Discovery Plan and Cut-Off Date.

1. The EEOC contends that discovery will be needed on the following subjects: facts and witnesses supporting the EEOC's claims of sexual harassment towards Maribel Ochoa, and retaliation towards Maribel Ochoa, Delfina Ochoa, Jose Ochoa and Guadalupe Martinez in violation of Title VII; the facts and witnesses supporting Defendant's affirmative defenses; Defendant's anti-discrimination policies; training and implementation of the policies; Defendant's liability for compensatory and punitive damages; and injunctive relief remedies.

2. At this time, Giumarra anticipates pursuing discovery concerning: any evidence EEOC may have to support its claims regarding the allegations contained in the EEOC Complaint and the EEOC Charges of Charging Parties Delfina Ochoa, Maribel Ochoa, and Jose Ochoa, as well as the EEOC's claims regarding alleged similarly situated individual Guadalupe Martinez; any evidence EEOC may have to support its claims related to the Charging Parties' and Martinez's employment with and separation from Giumarra, and any evidence the EEOC may have to support its claims for damages and injunctive and equitable relief; any evidence of EEOC's bias. There may be additional issues Giumarra will pursue through discovery.

3. The parties have agreed that discovery does not need to be conducted in phases or limited to certain issues.

4. All written discovery shall be conducted in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rules. The parties further agree (1) that each party will bear its own costs for copying documents produced under Fed. R. Civ. P. 34 and in response to any subpoena; (2) that depositions will be taken in accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 30; (3) that each side can take a maximum of twenty (20) depositions; (4) to act reasonably in attempting to informally resolve issues that may arise concerning limitations on the length and manner of taking depositions in light of some witnesses' lack of English proficiency; and (5) that discovery pleadings, including discovery requests and responses, with the exception of document productions, will be served both by regular mail and electronic service. However, documents produced in response to production requests need only be served by regular mail.

5. The parties intend to participate in a meet and confer process regarding a stipulated protective order covering private and confidential information. At this time, Plaintiff EEOC seeks a protective order regarding, inter alia, the oral deposition of any EEOC employee. Defendant intends to bring a Motion to Compel depositions of Plaintiff EEOC's employees, if they are not produced voluntarily.

6. The present Plaintiff and Defendant have made their Rule 26 disclosures.

7. The parties are ordered to complete all discovery on or before June 30, 2011.

8. The parties are directed to disclose all expert witnesses, in writing, on or before May 2, 2011. Any rebuttal or supplemental expert disclosures will be made on or before June 2, 2011. The parties will comply with the provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2) regarding their expert designations. Local Rule 16-240(a) notwithstanding, the written designation of experts shall be made pursuant to F. R. Civ. P. Rule 26(a)(2), (A) and (B) and shall include all information required thereunder. Failure to designate experts in compliance with this order may result in the Court excluding the testimony or other evidence offered through such experts that are not disclosed pursuant to this order.

9. The provisions of F. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(4) shall apply to all discovery relating to experts and their opinions. Experts may be fully prepared to be examined on all subjects and opinions included in the designation. Failure to comply will result in the imposition of sanctions.

X. Pre-Trial Motion Schedule.

1. All Non-Dispositive Pre-Trial Motions, including any discovery motions, will be filed on or before July 15, 2011, and heard on August 19, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. before Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto in Courtroom 8.

2. In scheduling such motions, the Magistrate Judge may grant applications for an order shortening time pursuant to Local Rule 142(d). However, if counsel does not obtain an order shortening time, the notice of motion must comply with Local Rule 251.

3. All Dispositive Pre-Trial Motions are to be filed no later than July 29, 2011, and will be heard on August 29, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. before the Honorable Oliver W. Wanger, United States District Judge, in Courtroom 3, 7th Floor. In scheduling such motions, counsel shall comply with Local Rule 230.

XI. Pre-Trial Conference Date.

1. October 3, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom 3, 7th Floor, before the Honorable Oliver W. Wanger, United States District Judge.

2. The parties are ordered to file a Joint Pre-Trial Statement pursuant to Local Rule 281(a)(2).

3. Counsel's attention is directed to Rules 281 and 282 of the Local Rules of Practice for the Eastern District of California, as to the obligations of counsel in preparing for the pre-trial conference. The Court will insist upon strict compliance with those rules.

XII. Motions - Hard Copy.

1. The parties shall submit one (1) courtesy paper copy to the Court of any motions filed. Exhibits shall be marked with protruding numbered or lettered tabs so that the Court can easily identify such exhibits.

XIII. Trial Date.

1. November 15, 2011, at the hour of 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 3, 7th Floor, before the Honorable Oliver W. Wanger, United States District Judge.

2. This is a jury trial.

3. Counsels' Estimate Of Trial Time:

a. 12-15 days.

4. Counsels' attention is directed to Local Rules of Practice for the Eastern District of California, Rule 285.

XIV. Settlement Conference.

1. A Settlement Conference is scheduled for July 6, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. in Courtroom 8 before the Honorable Sheila K. Oberto, United States Magistrate Judge.

2. Unless otherwise permitted in advance by the Court, the attorneys who will try the case shall appear at the Settlement Conference with the parties and the person or persons having full authority to negotiate and settle the case on any terms at the conference.

3. Permission for a party [not attorney] to attend by telephone may be granted upon request, by letter, with a copy to the other parties, if the party [not attorney] lives and works outside the Eastern District of California, and attendance in person would constitute a hardship. If telephone attendance is allowed, the party must be immediately available throughout the conference until excused regardless of time zone differences. Any other special arrangements desired in cases where settlement authority rests with a governing body, shall also be proposed in advance by letter copied to all other parties.

4. Confidential Settlement Conference Statement.

At least five (5) days prior to the Settlement Conference the parties shall submit, directly to the Magistrate Judge's chambers, a confidential settlement conference statement. The statement should not be filed with the Clerk of the Court nor served on any other party. Each statement shall be clearly marked "confidential" with the date and time of the Settlement Conference indicated prominently thereon. Counsel are urged to request the return of their statements if settlement is not achieved and if such a request is not made the Court will dispose of the statement.

5. The Confidential Settlement Conference Statement shall include the following:

a. A brief statement of the facts of the case.

b. A brief statement of the claims and defenses, i.e., statutory or other grounds upon which the claims are founded; a forthright evaluation of the parties' likelihood of prevailing on the claims and defenses; and a description of the major issues in dispute.

c. A summary of the proceedings to date.

d. An estimate of the cost and time to be expended for further discovery, pre-trial and trial.

e. The relief sought.

f. The parties' position on settlement, including present demands and offers and a history of past settlement discussions, offers and demands.

XV. Request For Bifurcation, Appointment Of Special Master, Or Other Techniques To Shorten Trial.

1. To the extent punitive damages are sought as to the amount, if any, that issue shall be tried in a continuous trial in a second phase before the same jury.

XVI. Related Matters Pending.

1. There are no related matters.

XVII. Compliance With Federal Procedure.

1. The Court requires compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules of Practice for the Eastern District of California. To aid the court in the efficient administration of this case, all counsel are directed to familiarize themselves with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules of Practice of the Eastern District of California, and keep abreast of any amendments thereto.

XVIII. Effect Of This Order.

1. The foregoing order represents the best estimate of the court and counsel as to the agenda most suitable to bring this case to resolution. The trial date reserved is specifically reserved for this case. If the parties determine at any time that the schedule outlined in this order cannot be met, counsel are ordered to notify the court immediately of that fact so that adjustments may be made, either by stipulation or by subsequent scheduling conference.

2. Stipulations extending the deadlines contained herein will not be considered unless they are accompanied by affidavits or declarations, and where appropriate attached exhibits, which establish good cause for granting the relief requested.

3. Failure to comply with this order may result in the imposition of sanctions.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20100701

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