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Cook v. Southern California Edison

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 11, 2013

TODD J. COOK, Plaintiff,
v.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON, an unknown business entity; and DOES 1-20, inclusive, Defendant.

ORDER

WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.

The matter before the Court is the Motion to Dismiss the Complaint filed by Defendant Southern California Edison. (ECF No. 12).

BACKGROUND

On July 30, 2012, Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a Complaint in San Diego County Superior Court. (ECF No. 1-1 at 2-9). Plaintiff, a former employee of Defendant, alleges that "gender, marital status and legal conduct outside of work were motivating factors for Defendant terminating his employment." Id. at 5. Plaintiff asserts five claims for relief: (1) wrongful termination on the basis of gender, in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") (Cal. Gov. Code § 12940(a)); (2) wrongful termination on the basis of marital status, in violation of FEHA ( Id. ); (3) wrongful termination in violation of public policy under the California Labor Code (Cal. Cal. Code § 96(k)); (4) wrongful termination in violation of public policy under the California Constitution (Cal. Const. Art. 1, § 1); and (5) non-job-related inquiry in violation of FEHA (Cal. Gov. Code § 12940(d)). On September 12, 2012, Defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint. (ECF No. 1-3, Exh. A).

On September 13, 2012, Defendant removed the action to this Court. (ECF No. 1). Defendant asserts that this action arises under federal law because "the alleged actions of Defendant and the alleged injury to Plaintiff... took place at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS'), or are otherwise related to Plaintiff's employment at SONGS, which is located on federally-owned land and is subject to the laws governing federal enclaves." (ECF No. 1 at 2 (citing, inter alia, Willis v. Craig, 555 F.2d 724, 726 (9th Cir. 1977)).

On January 22, 2013, Defendant filed the Motion to Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 12). On February 19, 2013, Plaintiff filed an opposition. (ECF No. 16). On March 1, 2013, Defendant filed a reply. (ECF No. 19).

ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

On September 17, 1990, Plaintiff began working for Defendant as a Nuclear Security Officer. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶ 10).

In 2003, Plaintiff and his wife got divorced. Id. ¶ 11. "Plaintiff never informed any of Defendant's employees that he was in fact not married, and thereby held himself out as a married person." Id. "On or about June 21, 2010, Plaintiff was legally divorced." Id.

"On or about June 21, 2010 through June 24, 2010, Plaintiff attended the National Nuclear Security Conference... at a hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. This hotel was not located on federal or federally owned property. Plaintiff brought a female companion with him to the convention." Id. ¶ 12.

"After returning from the convention, Plaintiff was informed that Defendant would be conducting an investigation into [Plaintiff's] behavior at the conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. Plaintiff underwent several interviews with investigators hired and acting on behalf of Defendant." Id. ¶ 13. For approximately the first ten minutes, "all of the questions... focused on Plaintiff's marital status, as well as the identity of his female companion." Id. Investigators asked Plaintiff several times whether he was married; "Plaintiff responded that he was not." Id. ¶ 14. "Plaintiff told the investigators that he was divorced. The investigators then asked Plaintiff if he was separated or divorced. Plaintiff again stated that he was divorced. The investigators then asked Plaintiff if he was legally divorced.' Plaintiff told them yes.'" Id. "[I]nvestigators asked Plaintiff who his female companion was. Plaintiff provided the investigators with his female companion's name. The investigators then asked Plaintiff if the woman was his wife or ex-wife. Plaintiff responded that she was not. The investigators then asked Plaintiff about the nature of his relationship with the woman." Id. ¶ 15.

"[O]n or about October 15, 2010, Defendants informed Plaintiff that his employment was terminated. Plaintiff was advised that the decision to terminate him was made at Defendant's corporate office complex in Rosemead, California." Id. ¶ 15. "Defendant's corporate office in Rosemead, California is not on federal or federally owned property." Id.

"Plaintiff is informed and believes and thereon alleges that his gender, marital status and legal conduct outside of work were motivating factors for Defendant terminating his employment." Id. ¶ 17. "Defendant made a non-job-related inquiry of Plaintiff that directly or indirectly expressed a ...


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