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Glenn Ledet v. California Waste Solutions

March 18, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jacqueline Scott Corley United States Magistrate Judge

United States District Court Northern District of California


In this employment dispute, Plaintiff Glenn Ledet asserts that Defendants California Waste Solutions, Inc. ("CWS") and Joel Corona have retaliated against him for his refusal to participate in 23 improprieties at the workplace. Now pending before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 24 Plaintiff's Complaint in part. (Dkt. No. 6.) The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition 25 without oral argument. See N.D. Cal. Civ. L.R. 7--1(b). Accordingly, the hearing set for March 21, 26 2013 is VACATED. Having considered the parties' pleadings and the relevant legal authority, and 27 for the reasons set forth in this Order, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion. 3 hired Plaintiff in January 2007 as a Customer Service Manager for its San Jose and Oakland, 4 Customer Service, Contract Compliance and Public Outreach Manager for San Jose and Oakland. 6 Plaintiff's Complaint recounts a litany of instances where CWS and its employees- Defendant Corona, in particular-pressured Plaintiff to take certain actions or, in some instances, 9 risk retaliation. Between 2009 and 2012, Corona "has directed Plaintiff to withhold information on 10 City of San Jose, specific personnel issues, and other claims against CWS." (Id. at ¶ 22.) Corona 12 threatened that if Plaintiff did not cooperate Plaintiff "would receive negative reviews, would be passed on for promotions and raises, along with Plaintiff's subordinate support employees." (Id.) 14


CWS, a waste collection and recycling services company that contracts with municipalities, California operations. (Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 14.) Plaintiff was subsequently promoted and is currently the 5 (Id.) 7

CWS vehicle substandard maintenance, hazardous material spillage, violations of contract with the During 2010 and 2011, Plaintiff received complaints from the City of San Jose and customers about 15 broken glass on San Jose streets. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Plaintiff informed Corona of the complaints, and 16 (Id.) 18

19 attorney, and CWS' owner. (Id. at ¶ 18.) CWS' attorney informed Plaintiff that an ex-employee and 20 the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") had called him as a witness 21 in an investigation conducted by DFEH. (Id.) CWS, through its attorney, "advised Plaintiff not 22 participate and cooperate with the DFEH investigation." (Id.) 23

The next month, Plaintiff received an invoice from the City of San Jose for the cost of

24 removing a damaged tree from a curbside in San Jose. "Plaintiff was asked to sign a claim denial 25 letter to the customer despite the facts supporting that CWS was at fault. As a result of Plaintiff's 26 refusal to sign said letter containing falsified facts, Defendant Corona threatened Plaintiff's 27 employment." (Id. at ¶ 19.) Approximately two months later, Plaintiff reported the incident to CWS 28 "human resources generalist," John Lam. (Id. at ¶ 20.) Despite his complaint and reassurances that Corona directed Plaintiff "to withhold information from CWS owners and the City of San Jose." 17

In May 2012, Plaintiff was called into a meeting with, among others, Corona, CWS' CWS would investigate, Plaintiff believes that CWS has not investigated or prevented retaliation by 2 Corona. (Id.) 3

on behalf of CWS to its insurance investigator surrounding the destruction by fire of a CWS garbage 5 truck. Plaintiff was again retaliated against by Defendant Corona for his failure to participate in 6 insurance fraud." (Id. at ¶ 24.) In another incident the next month, Corona instructed Plaintiff to 7

"steal [trash] carts from customers and provide the same to others to avoid imposition of penalties by 8 the City of San Jose. Plaintiff has since suffered retaliation by Defendants." (Id. at ¶ 25.) Although 9

Plaintiff's complaint." (Id.) 11

meeting involving Plaintiff, Defendant Corona, and City Officials with the City of San Jose." (Id. at ¶ 21.) Corona has "made it abundantly clear to Plaintiff that he would be fired for supporting 14

Between Plaintiff's date of hire in January 2007 and May 2012, Plaintiff has never had a formal job or performance review. (Id. at ¶ 26.) However, since all the incidents giving rise to this 17 action, Defendants have, as of May 2012, begun to initiate performance review meetings. (Id.) 18

Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff's Complaint presents four causes of action against both

19 defendants: 1) retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1994; 2) retaliation in 20 violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 3) violation of California Labor Code Section 1102.5; and 4) breach 21 of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. 22

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief 24 can be granted "tests the legal sufficiency of a claim." Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 25 2001). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on either (1) the "lack of a cognizable legal 26 theory," or (2) "the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). While "detailed factual allegations" are 28 not required, a complaint must include sufficient facts to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on In July 2012, Corona "instructed Plaintiff to engage in insurance fraud by making statements Plaintiff filed a complaint with CWS human resources, it has "refused to appropriately address 10 Finally, "Corona continued in his retaliatory conduct against Plaintiff in a September 2012 13 Defendant in his dishonesty to the City of San Jose." (Id.) 15


its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the 2 plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the 3 defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. 4

For purposes of ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court accepts all allegations

5 of material fact as true and construes the pleadings in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs. 6

Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). The Court need 7 not, however, accept as true pleadings that are no more than legal conclusions or the "formulaic 8 recitation of the elements' of a cause of action." Iqbal, 556 U.S at 663. Mere "conclusory 9 allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for 10 failure to state a claim." Epstein v. Wash. Energy Co., 83 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 1996). 11

Defendants' motion seeks dismissal of 1) all claims against Corona, and 2) Plaintiff's second

cause of action under Section 1983 as to CWS. As discussed below, the Court agrees that such 14 dismissal is warranted. 15

Defendant argues that Plaintiff's claim under Title VII must be dismissed with prejudice

17 against Corona because only employers are liable under Title VII and Corona ...

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