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Su v. Siemens Industry, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

July 10, 2013

JULIE SU, Plaintiff,


JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.


Charles Anderson has moved for permissive intervention in this case brought by California State Labor Commissioner Julie Su ("Commissioner Su") against Defendant Siemens Industry, Inc. ("Siemens"). The Court will grant the motion, subject to the conditions described herein.


A. Legal and Factual Background

California Labor Code Section 6310 prohibits employers from discharging or discriminating against employees for making complaints about workplace safety conditions. Under California Labor Code Section 98.7, the Labor Commissioner is empowered to bring a lawsuit on behalf of an unlawfully discharged employee. That section also provides that "[i]n any action, the court may permit the claimant to intervene as a party plaintiff to the action." Cal. Labor Code § 98.7(c).

Commissioner Su alleges that Complainants Charles Anderson and Charles Pitschner ("Complainants") filed timely complaints in June 2010 with her office, alleging that their employer Siemens fired them in March 2010 in retaliation for their engaging in activity protected by Section 6310. Complaint for Backpay and Injunctive Relief for Violation of Labor Code Section 6310 ("Complaint"), Exh. A to ECF No. 1, at ¶14. Through the state Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement, Commissioner Su investigated Complainants' allegations, and in March 2012 adopted the findings of the State Director of Industrial Relations that Siemens had violated Section 6310. Id., at ¶ 15. Commissioner Su wrote to Siemens demanding that they reinstate Complainants, restore their back pay and benefits with interest, and comply with various other orders of the Commissioner intended to prevent future violations. Id., at ¶¶ 16-17. Siemens has not complied with those demands, and denies that it discharged Complainants for reporting safety issues. Id .; see also Defendant Siemens Industry, Inc.'s Opposition to Charles R. Anderson's Motion to Intervene as Party Plaintiff ("Siemens Opp."). ECF No. 52, at 2:4-6.

B. Procedural History

California State Labor Commissioner Julie Su ("Commissioner Su") brought this complaint on June 12, 2012 in San Francisco Superior Court, bringing a single cause of action for violation of Section 6310, and seeking back wages and interest on back wages on behalf of Complainants, as well as injunctive relief. Complaint, at ¶¶ 1, 19. Siemens removed this case to federal court in July 2012. Notice of Removal of Action Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, 1446 ("Notice of Removal"), ECF No. 1.

Mr. Anderson, proceeding pro se, filed an "Ex Parte Petition for an Order to Intervene as Party Plaintiff" ("First Anderson Motion") on March 22, 2013. ECF No. 24. On April 5, Siemens requested that the Court find that Mr. Anderson's request for ex parte relief was improper, or in the alternative, permit a hearing on the petition. ECF No. 30, at 5:19-6:13. Siemens went on to argue that the Court should not grant Mr. Anderson leave to intervene. Id., at 6:14-11:4. Commissioner Su submitted a "Reply Memorandum" ("Su Brief") on April 12, in which she agreed that the petition should be set for hearing rather than decided ex parte, but went on to argue that Mr. Anderson should be granted leave to intervene, either as of right or permissively. ECF No. 31. Mr. Anderson filed a "response" on April 12, "recogniz[ing] the ex parte application might have been made in error, " and indicating that he would later file a noticed application. ECF No. 32. Mr. Anderson filed a separate submission the same day entitled "Claimant Seeks an Order to Intervene as Party Plaintiff on a Permissive Basis in the Above Entitled Case" ("Anderson Motion"), ECF No. 35. Siemens objected to Commissioner Su submitting a reply brief in support of Mr. Anderson's application to intervene, since she was not the moving party. ECF No. 40.

Bearing in mind its obligation to construe pro se submissions liberally, the Court construed Mr. Anderson's submission at ECF No. 32 as withdrawing his application for ex parte relief, and construed Mr. Anderson's April 12 submission at ECF No. 35 as a motion to intervene in this case. ECF No. 48. The Court construed Commissioner Su's April 20 submission as the equivalent of an amicus curiae brief in support of Mr. Anderson's motion. Id . The Court also granted Siemens the right to file a new brief in opposition to Mr. Anderson's new motion, and granted Mr. Anderson the right to reply. Id.

Siemens filed its opposition on June 6. Siemens Opp. Mr. Anderson did not file a reply.

B. Jurisdiction

Siemens asserts, and no party disputes, that Siemens is a citizen of Delaware, where it is incorporated, and of Georgia, which is its principal place of business. Notice of Removal, ¶¶ 8-9. Since neither Commissioner Su nor the Complainants are citizens of those states, and since the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, ...

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