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Robles v. Agreserves, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 26, 2014

AGRESERVES, INC., et al., Defendants.


JENNIFER L. THURSTON, Magistrate Judge.

Juan Carols Robles ("Plaintiff") seeks to have this action remanded to Kern County Superior Court. (Doc. 4.) Defendant AgReserves, Inc., doing business as South Valley Farms ("AgReserves"), opposes remand, asserting the Court has subject matter jurisdiction. (Doc. 8.) The Court found the matter suitable for decision without argument and took the matter under submission pursuant to Local Rule 230(g) on June 20, 2014. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion to remand is DENIED.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Plaintiff initiated this action in Kern County Superior Court, Case No. S-1500-CV-281375-DRL, by filing a complaint against AgReserves, Inc.; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; South Valley Farms; Jorge Campos;[1] and Jay Payne. (Doc. 1-1 at 5.) Plaintiff alleges he was employed by AgReserves and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints "as a pesticide and chemical driver, and a farm worker, " beginning in February 2013. ( Id. at 7, ¶ 8.) Plaintiff alleges Campo was his "supervisor and foreman" and is "a Mormon belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." ( Id. ) Plaintiff is "Mexican and Catholic, " and asserts that he "was subjected to... [a] continuous, severe, and pervasive campaign" of harassment based upon his national origin and religion by Campo. ( Id. at 7-8, ¶¶ 8, 10.) In addition, Plaintiff alleges that while he worked for the defendants, he was not "allowed to take his 30 minute meal breaks and any rest breaks, " and that Campo "hit[] him when he asked for meal breaks." ( Id. at 9, ¶15.)

Plaintiff alleges Campo commented on the Stupid Mexicans' referring to Plaintiff almost every day." (Doc. 1-1 at 7, ¶9(a).) Plaintiff asserts Campo "thought and told Plaintiff several times that he was above all the Mexicans." ( Id. at 8, ¶9(c).) Plaintiff asserts that one day, Campo "shot... his hunting rifle at the direction o[f] Plaintiff and other workers." ( Id. at 7, ¶9(c).) According to Plaintiff, this "shooting incident was harassment based on Plaintiff's national origin." ( Id. ) Further, Plaintiff asserts Campo would make comments "almost every day" regarding his religion, such as:

"Your religion is nothing, less than my religion;"
"I'm a better person than you guys because your religion is less than my religion;"
"You are less than me. I have a better job than you guys. I'm a Mormon and you guys are less than me;" and
"My religion is on top. We are better than anyone else."

(Doc. 1-1 at 8, ¶ 10.) Plaintiff asserts he complained to Jay Payne, the manager, regarding Campo's actions on or about February 11, 2013, but his complaints were ignored. ( Id. at 9, ¶ 11.)

According to Plaintiff, in mid-February 2013, he complained to Campo "about not getting meal and rest breaks and asked to be allowed a meal break." (Doc. 1-1 at 9, ¶ 16.) He asserts that Campo "hit [his] arm continuously several times and started driving his truck, " in which Plaintiff was the passenger." ( Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that he "asked to get out of the truck, " but Campo "did not stop and continued driving for about 15-20 minutes falsely imprisoning Plaintiff against his will." ( Id. ) On another occasion, Plaintiff asserts Campo "caused a danger chemical/pesticide to be thrown under Plaintiff's truck" after Plaintiff "made safety complaints... stating that the chemical that the Defendants were using were creating health hazards (sic) for Plaintiff burning and scaring his face." ( Id. at 10, ¶17.) Further, Plaintiff complained the truck he was given was "dangerous to drive" because it had bad brakes and "the tractor seat was loose which caused Plaintiff to injure his knee." ( Id. )

Plaintiff alleges that he complained to Payne again on March 20, 2013 that Campo "was harassing him about religion, and his national origin, shooting at him, [and] throwing chemicals under his car, all because of religion and ethnicity." (Doc. 1-1 at 9, ¶ 12.) Plaintiff alleges Payne told him to put the complaints in writing, which he presented to Payne "on or about March 28, 2013, and on April 2, 2013. ( Id. ) According to Plaintiff, on April 2, 2013, he was "fired... in discrimination and in retaliation for complaining of harassment based on religion and national origin, " and "in retaliation for complaining and needing meal breaks." ( Id., ¶¶ 13, 15, 17.) He asserts that when he was fired, Payne "prevented his exit from the office for about 5 minutes over his protest because Plaintiff refused to sign the termination papers since he did not agree with them." ( Id. at 44, ¶ 137.)

Based upon these facts, Plaintiff "filed charges of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation" based upon national origin and religion on April 4, 2013. (Doc. 1-1 at 10-15, ¶¶ 19-22, 36-39). The EEOC issued a Notice of Case Closure/Right-to-Sue Letter on February 6, 2014. ( Id., ¶ 19, 39.) In the operative complaint, Plaintiff raises sixteen causes of action for violations of Title VII; violations of California's constitution and Fair Employment and Housing Act; failure to provide rest and meal periods in violation of Cal. Labor Code § 226.7 and related Wage Orders, seeking penalties for these violations; wrongful termination in violation of public policy; and the common law torts of battery, assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. ( See generally Doc. 1-1.)

On April 16, 2014, AgReserves filed a Notice of Removal, asserting the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint because Plaintiff "alleged claims brought under Federal law, including Harassment, Discrimination and Retaliation based on national origin in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq., and Harassment, Discrimination, and Retaliation based on religion in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000 et seq." (Doc. 1 at 2.) Plaintiff filed his motion to remand on May 16, 2014, asserting "diversity and federal question jurisdiction does not exist and the removal was procedurally defective." (Doc. 4 at 3.) Plaintiff asserts the "[f]ederal jurisdiction is ...

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