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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Farmers Ins. Co.

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 30, 2014

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
FARMERS INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant

Page 957

For U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Plaintiff: Rumduol Vuong, GOVT, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Fresno, CA; Anna Y Park, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Los Angeles, CA.

For Farmers Insurance Exchange, Defendant: Andrew Marc Paley, LEAD ATTORNEY, George E. Preonas, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, Los Angeles, CA; Laura J. Maechtlen, LEAD ATTORNEY, Seyfarth Shaw LLP, San Francisco, CA; Robert Brian Wong, Baker and McKenzie (PA), Palo Alto, CA.

OPINION

Page 958

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION AND FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

ANTHONY W. ISHII, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

I. Introduction

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (" Plaintiff" ) brought this action for violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (" Title VII" ) and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 against Defendant Farmers Insurance Company (" Defendant" ) to seek relief for charging parties Chia Xiong (" Xiong" ), Jason Lowry (" Lowry" ), and other similarly situated individuals

Page 959

who were affected by Farmers' allegedly unlawful conduct. Defendant has filed a motion to dismiss Planitiff's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Defendant also requests that the court take judicial notice of its exhibits in support of its motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 201. Defendant's request for judicial notice is granted. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's motion to dismiss will be denied.

II. Background

A. Facts[1]

Xiong, Lowry, and John Yang (" Yang" ) were all employed by Defendant. See Doc. 1, Complaint (" Compl." ) at ¶ ¶ 13-14. On or about October 31, 2005, Xiong was hired as a claims representative for Defendant. Defendant's Request for Judicial Notice (" RJN" ), Exhibit 1 at ¶ 1. Plaintiff alleges that, prior to 2009, Xiong and other employees in Defendant's Fresno, California office were instructed by their supervisor, Tim Cavanaugh, and Office Training Specialist, Brian Ponte, to code payments as partial payments to avoid negative customer service surveys. See Compl. at ¶ 12; RJN, Exh. 1 at ¶ 1. In 2009, Defendant conducted an audit regarding the issuance of partial payments. Compl. at ¶ 13. During this audit Defendant interviewed several claims representative relating to the coding of partial payments. Compl. at ¶ 13. Xiong, Yang, and Lowry were among those interviewed. Compl. at ¶ 13.

After the employee interviews concluded Defendants terminated the employment of Xiong and Yang (both Asian) while retaining similarly situated non-Asian employees who had also coded cases as partial payments. Compl. at ¶ 14.

On June 24, 2009, Xiong filed a charge of discrimination with the E.E.O.C.. Compl. at ¶ 15; RJN, Exh. 1. On or about May 24, 2012, the E.E.O.C. interviewed Lowry in connection with its investigation. Compl. at ¶ 16. On or about June 5, 2012, Lowry was questioned by Defendant about his interview with the E.E.O.C.. Compl. at ¶ 17. The following day Lowry was placed on administrative leave. Plaintiff alleges that, on or about July 18, 2012, Lowry was terminated due to his participation in the E.E.O.C. investigation.

B. Procedural History

Xiong filed a charge of discrimination with the E.E.O.C. alleging that he was subject to racial discrimination at Farmers in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . Compl. at ¶ 8. Plaintiff thereafter attempted to eliminate the allegedly unlawful employment practices that it found and to effect voluntary compliance with Title VII through informal methods of conciliation, conference and persuasion. Compl. at ¶ 9.

Plaintiff alleges that all conditions precedent to institution of this lawsuit have been fulfilled. Compl. at ¶ 11.

On September 30, 2013, the E.E.O.C. filed suit on behalf of Chia Xiong, Jason Lowry, and other similarly situated individuals alleging violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as of Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Doc. 1. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss on January 28, 2014. Plaintiff filed an opposition on February 24, 2014, and Defendant filed its reply on March 3, 2014.

Page 960

III. Legal Standard

A. 12(b)(1) -- Subject Matter ...


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