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MacHado v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 18, 2014

JOHN A. MACHADO, Plaintiff,
CVS PHARMACY, INC., Defendant.


JOOSEPH C. SPERO, Magistrate Judge.


Plaintiff John A. Machado filed a Complaint under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§2000e, et seq. alleging race and national origin discrimination by his former employer, Defendant CVS Pharmacy, Inc. Plaintiff worked for CVS in Hawaii, where he allegedly suffered from the discriminatory acts complained of in the Complaint. Defendant has filed a Motion to Transfer Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) ("Motion"), in which Defendant argues this case should be transferred to the District of Hawaii for the convenience of the parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice. The Court held a hearing on the Motion on February 14, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. For the reasons explained below, the Motion is GRANTED.[1]


A. The Complaint

Plaintiff filed this action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on September 29, 2013. Complaint ("Compl.") at 1. Plaintiff is a California resident of a mixed ethnic background but appears to be primarily Caucasian. Compl. ¶¶ 14, 16. Defendant CVS hired Plaintiff as a Regional Loss Prevention Manager for certain Hawaii stores in or around September of 2012. Id. ¶ 14. Plaintiff reported for his first day of work with CVS in the State of Hawaii on or about October 1, 2012. Id.

In the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that shortly after he began working for Defendant, he experienced continuous discrimination and harassment. Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's managing agents, supervisors, and corporate executives were aware of the racist and bigoted treatment the Hawaiian, Samoan, Japanese-American and other non-Caucasian employees directed toward "haole" employees such as Plaintiff, but purposely turned a blind eye towards the situation. Id. ¶ 17. "Haole" (pronounced "HOW-lee") is a derogatory term for a white-appearing person. Id.

Plaintiff alleges that between October of 2012 and March of 2013, Defendant's employees made multiple derogatory references to Plaintiff being "white." For example, the Store Manager at Longs Drugs Hawaii said to Plaintiff on December 21, 2012, "The yellow man and the white man will never think the same." Id. ¶ 19. The store's Pharmacy Manager in Hawaii said to Plaintiff, "You're Machado? You're white. Go get a tan." Id. On December 24, 2012, Plaintiff reported these racial comments to his immediate supervisor, Gary Laurich, and to his acting supervisor, Lisa Bryant, both of whom were living and working for CVS in California. Declaration of Plaintiff John Machado in Support of Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Change Venue ("Machado Decl.") ¶ 3; Declaration of Lisa Bryant in Support of CVS Pharmacy, Inc.'s Motion to Transfer Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) ("Bryant Decl.") ¶¶ 1, 2. Plaintiff also reported these comments to CVS's Human Resources business partner in Hawaii, Tim Casey. Id. Upon hearing Plaintiff's complaints, Gary Laurich told Plaintiff to "Quit being a pussy;" Lisa Bryant told Plaintiff "That's too bad;" and Tim Casey said, "That's just the way it is around here." Compl. ¶ 19.

With no support from his immediate supervisors, Plaintiff alleges that he contacted CVS's Director of Human Resources Sandra Reynoso, whose office was located in California. Compl. ¶ 19; see also Machado Decl. ¶ 4. Because Plaintiff was scheduled to be in Sacramento on company business from January 1, 2013 to January 5, 2013, Plaintiff alleges that he and Ms. Reynoso set up a time to meet and to discuss the racial harassment he was getting at the hands of his Hawaiian counterparts. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Ms. Reynoso acknowledged that the Store Manager and the store's Pharmacy Manager were out of line and that they should be counseled with documentation at minimum. Id. According to Plaintiff, Ms. Reynoso also acknowledged that the three CVS executives to whom Plaintiff reported these events failed to handle Plaintiff's complaints correctly. Id. Ms. Reynoso allegedly told Plaintiff that his situation would be dealt with, but this never happened. Id.

Ms. Reynoso denies ever having spoken with Plaintiff while in California about the alleged discrimination or any other matter. In her declaration, Ms. Reynoso writes:

During his employment as RLPM, I spoke to Plaintiff many times I was on a business trip in Hawaii. All of our other conversations took place over the phone. I do not recall ever meeting with Plaintiff to discuss allegations of harassment in-person in California.

Declaration of Sandra Reynoso in Support of CVS Pharmacy, Inc.'s Motion to Transfer Venue Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) ("Reynoso Decl.") ¶ 3.

Plaintiff alleges that the discrimination and harassment towards Plaintiff did not stop after Plaintiff's meeting with Ms. Reynoso. On the night of Plaintiff's meeting with Ms. Reynoso, Plaintiff's immediate supervisor, Gary Laurich, looked at Plaintiff and loudly proclaimed, "I don't give a fuck what you say to HR." Id. One of Plaintiff's supervisors, Lisa Bryant, called Plaintiff the following week in Hawaii and told Plaintiff that he had not informed her of how serious the situation was. Id. Ms. Bryant became agitated when Plaintiff responded that he had indeed told her of the seriousness of the situation. Id. At the end of January of 2013, CVS's Hawaii District Manager personally apologized to Plaintiff for the conduct of the native islander employees working under his control. Id. Plaintiff also received an apology from the Store Manager, but not from the store's Pharmacy Manager. Id. In February of 2013, the Kaneohe CVS Store Manager approached Plaintiff while he was performing an audit at the store. Id. This manager told Plaintiff, "I don't care how you score this store on your audit. We don't like your kind over here." Id. Later in that same month, CVS's District Manager at the Kapolei store told Plaintiff that he was "too white and that (Plaintiff) should go get a tan." Id.

On or about March 1, 2013, Plaintiff called Ms. Reynoso and told her that the racial harassment and discrimination had not stopped and that he doubted that Defendant had ever properly documented the repeated violations of which he had complained, or disciplined the violators. Id. ¶ 20. All Ms. Reynoso offered to Plaintiff was a statement that she was "sorry (Plaintiff) felt that way." Id. Ms. Reynoso also told Plaintiff that she would have to follow up to ...

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