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Christine Toth v. Guardian Industries Corp.

February 13, 2012

CHRISTINE TOTH,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
GUARDIAN INDUSTRIES CORP., ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND (Document 16)

On January 6, 2012, Plaintiff Christine Toth ("Plaintiff") filed the instant Motion to Remand. The matter was heard on February 10, 2012, before the Honorable Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge. William Smith appeared on behalf of Plaintiff. Greg Smith appeared on behalf of Defendants Guardian Insurance Corp. and Ashley Kirkland.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this employment discrimination action in Fresno County Superior Court on November 9, 2011. Defendants Guardian Industries Corp., and Ashley Kirkland (collectively, "Defendants") removed the action to this Court on December 30, 2011, pursuant to this Court's diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441.

On January 6, 2012, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Remand.*fn1 Defendants filed an opposition on January 26, 2012. Plaintiff filed her reply on February 2, 2012.

ALLEGATIONS IN THE COMPLAINT

According to the Complaint, Plaintiff is an "adult homosexual female" and was employed by Defendant Guardian Industries Corp. ("Guardian") as a Human Resources Manager from December 2000 through her termination on November 12, 2010. Plaintiff is a resident of Fresno County. Guardian is a Delaware corporation doing business in Fresno, California. Defendant Ashley Kirkland ("Mr. Kirkland"), a resident of Fresno County, was Plant Manager at Guardian in Fresno County.

Plaintiff began working for Guardian in December 2000 as a Human Resources Generalist at its plant in Carleton, Michigan. Plaintiff was promoted to Human Resources Manager at its plant in Kingsburg, California. She performed her duties satisfactorily throughout her employment and received satisfactory performance evaluations and several salary increases.

In September 2010, Mr. Kirkland told Plaintiff that he believed that two exempt employees at the plant were dating. Mr. Kirkland told Plaintiff to fire both employees, then changed his mind and told Plaintiff to "get rid of" only the female exempt employee because the male employee was more valuable. Complaint, ¶ 11. Mr. Kirkland told Plaintiff to make the female employee's life so miserable that she would quit. Plaintiff informed Mr. Kirkland that Guardian had no policy against employees dating and that to terminate an employee for this would be unlawful. She refused to fire the female employee or take any action that would cause her to quit.

Mr. Kirkland became upset with Plaintiff and began to shun her. Plaintiff attempted to contact Guardian's corporate attorney about Mr. Kirkland's demand, but had to leave a message. Plaintiff then contacted Guardian's corporate Human Resources Director, Krissy Janz, to tell her about his demand and express her concern about retaliation. Ms. Janz told Plaintiff that she did not need to talk to the corporate attorney and that she would visit Kingsburg to investigate.

Mr. Kirkland learned that Plaintiff had consulted with Ms. Janz and was furious. He launched into a rant in which he threatened to terminate her several times. Mr. Kirkland told Plaintiff that Bruce Cummings, Guardian's Vice President of Human Resources, "doesn't even like [her] anymore." Complaint, ¶ 14.

Plaintiff explains that she is a lesbian in a longtime relationship with a Guardian employee who works at the Reedley facility. Plaintiff believes that this is common knowledge to Guardian management. In the past, Mr. Cummings asked Plaintiff if they planned to have children and if so, which partner would give birth to the child. Mr. Cummings reacted negatively to the possibility that Plaintiff might become pregnant. Plaintiff alleges that Mr. Cummings instructed the Plant Manager at Reedley to terminate Plaintiff's partner because of their relationship.

On or about November 2, 2010, Ms. Janz met with Plaintiff and told her that she was not the right person to work with Mr. Kirkland. Ms. Janz offered Plaintiff a transfer to a plant in Indiana or a severance package. Plaintiff was unable to relocate and was terminated effective November 12, 2010. Plaintiff believes that Guardian terminated her because she refused to engage in unlawful activity and because of her sexual orientation. Plaintiff believes that Mr. Cummings participated in, and approved, the decision to terminate her.

Plaintiff filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and received a right ...


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