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Leon v. Target Corp.

October 19, 2010

DAVID A. LEON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TARGET CORPORATION, A MINNESOTA CORPORATION, SONYA MORGAN, AN INDIVIDUAL, DESIREE MCGOWAN, AN INDIVIDUAL, ISRAEL GURROLA, AN INDIVIDUAL, JORDAN SHARP, AN INDIVIDUAL, AND DOES 1 THROUGH 20, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR REMAND (Documents 5 & 6)

RELEVANT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was employed by Defendant Target Corporation from November 1997 until his discharge in April 2010. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 1.) Plaintiff was a Sales Floor Team Leader prior to his termination, having been promoted a number of times and receiving salary increases during the course of his employment, based upon satisfactory job performance. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 13.) In February 2008, Plaintiff son's was born. The infant was diagnosed with renal failure, and as a result, Plaintiff was on leave pursuant to the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA") until May 2008 in order to provide care for his son. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 14.) Between May 2008 and April 2009, Plaintiff took intermittent CFRA leave due to his son's serious medical condition. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 15.) After each return to work, Plaintiff claims "Defendants hyper-scrutinized his job performance and criticized him for minor infractions," and believes Defendants did so "because he is associated with a person who is disabled (his son) and because he took leave to care for his son's serious medical condition." (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 15.)

In October 2008, Defendants Gurrola and Sharp "targeted Plaintiff for termination" and "began a campaign" because Plaintiff took CFRA leave in order to care for his son. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 16.) Shortly after Plaintiff returned from leave following his son's surgery prior to December 2008, McGowan prepared a written disciplinary notice involving "false accusations of 'unsatisfactory work performance.'" Plaintiff complained to Defendant Sharp and another manager, but no action was taken. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 17.)

In May 2009, Plaintiff complained to Defendant Sharp that he had been subjected to discrimination and retaliation for taking CFRA leave, however no action was taken. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 19.) In October 2009, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination against Defendant Target Corporation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Thereafter, "hyper-scrutiny" and unjustified criticism of Plaintiff's work continued. In January 2010, Defendant Gurrola prepared "another form of written discipline based on false allegations." Plaintiff was placed on a one-year period of probation and threatened with termination. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 22.)

Until his termination on April 28, 2010, Defendants continued to harass Plaintiff by falsely claiming his job performance was not satisfactory. (Doc. 1, Ex. A, ¶ 23.)

On or about July 12, 2010, Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants Target Corporation, Sonya Morgan, Desiree McGowan, Israel Gurrola and Jordan Sharp in the Fresno County Superior Court. Plaintiff alleged a failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliation, discrimination and retaliation for exercising rights, and wrongful termination against Defendant Target Corporation, as well as retaliation in violation of California Labor Code section 923. Plaintiff's final claim asserts defamation - slander per se and expressly identifies all Defendants. (See Doc. 1, Ex. A.)

On or about August 10, 2010, Defendant Target Corporation filed its answer to the complaint. (See Doc. 1, Ex. B.)

On August 13, 2010, Defendants Target Corporation, Sonya Morgan and Jordan Sharp filed a Notice of Removal in this Court. The pleading asserts the Target Corporation was served with service of process via its agent for service of process on July 14, 2010; Morgan and Sharp were personally served on July 19, 2010. (Doc. 1.)*fn1

On August 18, 2010, Plaintiff filed the instant motion. (Docs. 5-7.) On August 20, 2010, Defendants Morgan, Sharp and McGowan filed a motion to dismiss. (Doc. 10.) On September 13, 2010, Defendant Gurrola filed a motion to dismiss. (Doc. 10.) On September 15, 2010, Plaintiff filed oppositions to the motions to dismiss. (Docs. 16-17.)*fn2

On September 24, 2010, all Defendants filed an opposition to the instant motion to remand these proceedings to state court. (Doc. 18.) On September 28, 2010, Plaintiff filed his reply. (Doc. 21.)

On October 6, 2010, this Court determined the matter was suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 230(g).*fn3 The hearing scheduled for October 8, 2010, was vacated and the matter was deemed submitted for written findings. (Doc. 22.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Title 28 of the United States Code section 1441(a) provides that a defendant may remove "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts . . . have original jurisdiction . . .." Removal is proper when a case originally filed in state court presents a federal question or where there is diversity of citizenship among the ...


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