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Clovia Delgado v. United Facilities

February 17, 2012

CLOVIA DELGADO
PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED FACILITIES, INC., AND DOES 1 THROUGH 50, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Clovia Delgado ("Plaintiff") alleges several claims against Defendant United Facilities ("Defendant"), including disability discrimination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), violations of the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA"), and tortious termination in violation of public policy.*fn1

Defendant has filed a Motion to Dismiss these claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).*fn2 (ECF No. 12.) For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion will be granted.*fn3

BACKGROUND*fn4

Plaintiff began working for Defendant in 2003. Plaintiff worked as a shipping and receiving clerk and her job duties included typing and completing paperwork.

On or about October 28, 2008, Plaintiff took a medical leave of absence from her employment after she began experiencing problems with her back. Plaintiff was released to work effective January 2009. Plaintiff was instructed by her health care providers to stretch once per hour. Plaintiff alleges that this work instruction/restriction did not prevent her from performing the essential duties of a shipping and receiving clerk.

Defendant did not, at this point, have Plaintiff return to work. According to Plaintiff, on or around January 26, 2009, Defendant's human resources managers, Brian Jorgenson and Renna Bliss, refused to permit Plaintiff to return to work and "terminated" her because of her back condition and instruction/work restriction to stretch once per hour.

Mr. Jorgenson and Ms. Bliss allegedly informed Plaintiff that Defendant's policy was that Plaintiff must be able to work without restriction. At this point, Defendant stopped paying Plaintiff's wages. In March 2009, Defendant stopped paying Plaintiff's health insurance benefits.

On December 17, 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint (the "DFEH Complaint") with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") alleging she was fired, denied employment, denied accommodation and denied family or medical leave because of her physical disability. (FAC, Ex. 1.) Plaintiff indicated the reason for Defendant's treatment was that her "[d]octor release indicated work restrictions." (Id.) Plaintiff offered no further explanation. On January 12, 2010, Plaintiff received a notice of closure of her case and right-to-sue letter from DFEH. (Id.)

On or about December 28, 2009, after not having worked for almost a year, Defendant reinstated Plaintiff's employment because Plaintiff's health care providers determined she no longer required any work restrictions. Plaintiff began receiving compensation from Defendant on or about December 28, 2009.

On December 20, 2010, Plaintiff filed this action in the Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin, alleging claims for disability discrimination in violation of FEHA, failure to accommodate, failure to participate in the interactive process, violations of the CFRA, and termination in violation of public policy. (ECF No. 1, Ex. A.)

On January 22, 2011, Defendant removed the action to this Court on the grounds of diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (ECF No. 1 at 1.)

Defendant previously filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) challenging Plaintiff's claims for disability discrimination, violation of the CFRA and tortious termination in violation of public policy. (ECF No. 5.) Defendant challenged these causes of action on grounds that Plaintiff was not actually terminated.

In support of the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, Defendant attached an April 20, 2009 letter from Ms. Bliss. Plaintiff referred to this letter in her original Complaint, alleging that Ms. Bliss "wrote a letter to Plaintiff dated April 20, 2009, confirming that in order to be allowed to return to work, Plaintiff must be able 'to work without work restrictions.'" (See ECF No. 1, Ex. A ¶ 10.) The letter referenced a previous conversation between Plaintiff and Ms. Bliss in which Plaintiff said she was "hoping to have [her] doctor release [her] without restrictions and [she] believed she could do the job." (Decl. of Renna Bliss, ECF No. 12, Ex. C.) Ms. Bliss indicated to Plaintiff that "[w]e hope [that] you are on the mend and can return to work soon. . . ." (Id.)

Ms. Bliss noted in the letter that Plaintiff had used all the leave allotted to her under the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA")*fn5 , as well as additional time permitted under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). (Id.) Ms. Bliss also noted that Defendant had not received any follow-up information from Plaintiff or her physician. (Id.) Ms. Bliss requested an update in writing from Plaintiff's physician regarding her condition and whether and when she would be able to return to work without restriction. (Id.) The Court incorporated the letter by reference within Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to U.S. v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003). (See ECF No. 9 at 2, fn.4.)

The Court granted Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings with leave to amend. (ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff subsequently filed the FAC and omitted all references to the April 20, 2009 letter from Ms. Bliss to Plaintiff. (ECF No. 11.)

Defendant now moves to dismiss Plaintiff's claims for disability discrimination in violation of FEHA, violation of the CFRA, and tortious termination in violation of public policy. Defendant argues that all of these causes of action are based on the faulty premise that Defendant terminated Plaintiff's employment. (ECF No. 12 at 5.) Defendant also requests the Court take judicial notice of multiple documents, including the April 20, 2009 letter from Ms. Bliss to Plaintiff. (ECF No. 12-2, Ex. A, B, C, D.)

STANDARD

A. Motion to Dismiss

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). Rule 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not require detailed factual allegations.

However, "a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. (internal citations and quotations omitted). A court is not required to accept as true a "legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citing 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1216 (3d ed. 2004) (stating that the pleading must contain something more than "a statement of facts that merely creates a suspicion [of] a legally cognizable right of action.")).

Furthermore, "Rule 8(a)(2) . . . requires a showing, rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556 n.3 (internal citations and quotations omitted). Thus, "[w]ithout some factual allegation in the complaint, it is hard to see how a claimant could satisfy the requirements of providing not only 'fair notice' of the nature of the claim, but also 'grounds' on which the claim rests." Id. (citing 5 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, supra, at ยง 1202). A pleading must contain "only enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." ...


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