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Washington v. Vericrest Financial, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

February 18, 2014

TIFFANI WASHINGTON, Plaintiff,
v.
VERICREST FINANCIAL, INC., a Delaware corporation doing business in San Diego, California; CALIBER HOME LOANS, INC., a Delaware corporation and successor to VERICREST FINANCIAL, INC., doing business in San Diego, California; ADAN ROESNER, an individual; KEVIN HAMILTON, an individual; JODIE SEITZ, an individual; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive. Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS [Dkt. No. 3.]

GONZALO P. CURIEL, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before the Court is Defendants Vericrest Financial, Inc., Home Loans, Inc., Adan Roesner, Kevin Hamilton, Jodie Seitz, and Shannon Johnson's (collectively "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Tiffani Washington's ("Plaintiff") First Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6). (Dkt. No. 3.) Plaintiff opposed the motion, (Dkt. No. 5) and Defendants replied, (Dkt. No. 6). Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1), the Court finds the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument. Having considered the parties' submissions and the applicable law, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND[1]

Vericrest hired Plaintiff, an African-American woman, on September 22, 2011, to work as a Bankruptcy/Foreclosure manager. She held this position until her termination on November 13, 2012. Prior to working at Vericrest, Plaintiff acquired years of mortgage default experience dealing with bankruptcies, particularly with the rules and regulations concerning contacting debtors after they have filed for bankruptcy. Plaintiff also possessed familiarity with the Federal Real Estate Settlement Practices Act ("RESPA").

Plaintiff alleges Vericrest's employees contacted debtors during their bankruptcy proceedings in violation of the RESPA. Plaintiff voiced her concern regarding Vericrest's practices to Defendants Roesner and Hamilton, both Caucasian employees, who ignored her claims and told her that Vericrest's calls to debtors were just "soft calls."

Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that unlike her Caucasian counterparts, she was: (1) forced to work nine-hour days; (2) required to attend managers' meetings despite the fact that she was ill; and (3) denied email access on her cell phone. When Plaintiff inquired how to earn a monthly bonus, Hamilton ignored her and she was denied the bonus.

Plaintiff also alleges she was not informed that a Vericrest position, Assistant Vice President for Bankruptcy, had become available until she saw the position posted on the Internet. She applied for the job and forwarded her application to Defendant Hamilton. Vericrest ultimately hired a Caucasian woman, Defendant Seitz, for the position.

On March 20, 2012, Plaintiff went to Human Resources to complain about the way she was being treated by Defendants. She received four written warnings after this visit. Plaintiff alleges that after speaking with Human Resources, Defendants micro-managed her work assignments and delegated her managerial responsibilities to Defendant Johnson, a "team leader" assigned to the Bankruptcy Department.

On July 3, 2012, as a result of her treatment by Defendants, Plaintiff was hospitalized with depression and anxiety. On November 13, 2012, Vericrest terminated Plaintiff while she was on leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA").

III. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On July 23, 2013, Plaintiff filed a complaint in California Superior Court (County of San Diego) against Vericrest Financial, Inc.; Home Loans, Inc.; and four individual Defendants. The individual Defendants are Adan Roesner ("Roesner"), Kevin Hamilton ("Hamilton"), Jodie Seitz ("Seitz"), and Shannon Johnson ("Johnson").

Plaintiff's Complaint asserts nine causes of action: (1) retaliation; (2) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; (3) harassment based upon race in violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"); (4) discrimination based upon race in violation of the FEHA; (5) retaliation in violation of the FEHA; (6) failure to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment in violation of the FEHA; (7) termination in violation of public policy; (8) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (9) termination in violation of the FMLA. (Dkt. No. 1-2.)

On September 25, 2013, Defendants removed this action to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 1331, 1367. On October 1, 2013, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to ...


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