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Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity v. Giumarra Vineyards Corp.

August 12, 2010

COMMISSION, EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY PLAINTIFF,
v.
GIUMARRA VINEYARDS CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

MEMORANDUM DECISION RE: PLAINTIFF-INTERVENORS' MOTION TO INTERVENE

(Doc. 7.)

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on Delfino Ochoa, Maribel Ochoa, Jose Ochoa, and Guadalupe Martinez's motion to intervene in this action as plaintiffs pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a). Defendant Giumarra Vineyards Corporation ("Giumarra") opposes the motion, arguing that the intervening plaintiffs cannot introduce additional causes of action beyond what was originally alleged in the EEOC's complaint. Defendant also objects to Guadalupe Martinez's motion in its entirety. According to Defendant, Martinez is not an "aggrieved person" under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(1) and his reliance on the "single-filing" rule is inapplicable to the facts of this case.

II. BACKGROUND

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") brought the current action against Defendant Giumarra Vineyards Corporation ("Giumarra") on December 29, 2009. The EEOC filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ("Title VII"), and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, ("Title I"), to correct unlawful employment practices and to provide relief to charging parties Delfino Ochoa, Maribel Ochoa, and Jose Ochoa, as well as Guadalupe Martinez, a "similarly situated individual."*fn1 In its complaint, the EEOC alleges that Giumarra subjected Maribel Ochoa to a hostile work environment and retaliation. The complaint also alleges that Delfino Ochoa, Jose Ochoa, and Guadalupe Martinez were discharged "in retaliation for having engaged in statutorily protected activity."

According to the complaint, in early July 2007, Maribel Ochoa, who was employed at Giumarra's Edison, California facility, was subjected to unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature by a male co-worker. (Compl. ¶ 11.) The co-worker allegedly told Maribel Ochoa that he "wanted to have sex with her," and openly discussed his anatomy. (Id.) The repeated advances were unwelcome and Maribel Ochoa complained to management in an attempt to end the harassment, to no avail. (Id.)

It is alleged that on July 19, 2007, Delfino Ochoa, Maribel Ochoa, Jose Ochoa, and Guadalupe Martinez complained to Giumarra management concerning the sexual harassment of Maribel Ochoa, who was seventeen years-old at the time. (Id. ¶ 12(a).) The four individuals were allegedly terminated the next day, July 20, 2007. (Id.) According to the complaint, Giumarra terminated their employment "in retaliation for their opposition to unlawful sexual harassment in their workplace":

The terminations occurred growing complaints season were made and less well than in 24 advance hours after of the Parties and the nor to through.

Martinez were None of the the abrupt Martinez, were supposed the Charging Mr. Parties, Mr. work Charging

terminations and no given other any reason for situated farmer workers similarly in that manner. were discharged at that time (Id. ¶ 12(c).)

The EEOC seeks permanent injunctions enjoining Giumarra from discriminating based on sex and from engaging in retaliation for conduct protected by Title VII. It also seeks monetary relief that would make Delfino Ochoa, Maribel Ochoa, Jose Ochoa, and Guadalupe Martinez whole, compensation for past and future pecuniary losses, compensation for past and future non-pecuniary losses, and punitive damages for engaging in discriminatory practices.

On February 9, 2010, Intervening-Plaintiffs filed this motion to intervene pursuant to Federal Rule 24(a).*fn2 Intervening-Plaintiffs' complaint is substantially similar to the EEOC's complaint except for two additions: (1) their Title VII claims include allegations of discrimination/harassment based on national origin; and (2) they advance state law claims of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and related claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), California Government Code § 12940, et seq.*fn3

Defendant Giumarra opposed the motion to intervene on March 29, 2010.

Intervening-Plaintiffs filed their reply to Defendant's opposition on April 5, 2010. In support of their reply, they submitted: (1) a 21-page reply memorandum; (2) the Declaration of Mario Martinez, counsel for Intervening-Plaintiffs; and (3) numerous exhibits, including EEOC correspondence and "right-to-sue" letters.*fn4 (Doc. 10.)

The EEOC has not filed an opposition or statement of non-opposition to the motion.

III. LEGAL STANDARD.

Four individuals seek to intervene in the EEOC's action: Delfino Ochoa, Maribel Ochoa, Jose Ochoa, and Guadalupe Martinez. Intervening-Plaintiffs argue that they are entitled to intervene as a matter of right, pursuant to Rule 24(a) of the Civil Rules of Civil Procedure. Under Federal Rule 24(a), intervention of right shall be permitted when either federal statute confers the unconditional right to intervene in the action, or when the applicant claims an interest which may, as a practical matter, be impaired or impeded by disposition of the pending action, and that interest is not adequately represented by existing parties.

Title VII is one of the few statutes that provides individuals a right to intervene. See 42 U.S.C. ยง 2000e-5(f)(1) ("[T]he person or persons aggrieved shall have the right to intervene in a civil action brought by the [EEOC]...."). Most courts agree that this statutory provision permits individuals an "unconditional right to intervene" under Rule 24(a)(1) in a Title VII enforcement action brought by the EEOC against the employer. See, ...


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