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Williams v. Gyrus Acmi, LP

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

September 24, 2014

GYRUS ACMI, LP, et al., Defendants.



This is an employment discrimination action brought by Plaintiff Pamela Williams, who alleges state law discrimination and retaliation claims, as well as a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, against two entities she contends employed her: Gyrus ACMI, LP ("Gyrus") and Olympus America, Inc. ("Olympus"). Before the Court is Olympus' Motion to Dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. Olympus contends that Plaintiff has failed, where necessary, to exhaust her administrative remedies, and that Plaintiff's claims against it are time-barred due to the relevant statutes of limitations. Having reviewed the briefing and oral argument of the parties, as well as the relevant case law, the Court GRANTS Olympus' Motion to Dismiss in its entirety, but grants Plaintiff leave to amend to cure the deficiencies outlined in this Order.


Plaintiff is an African American woman over forty. She alleges in her First Amended Complaint ("FAC") that she "was a Territory Manager for GYRUS from May 2004 until her termination November 30, 2011." FAC ¶ 24. Gyrus specializes in medical device sales, and Plaintiff regularly achieved her sales quotas for the company. Ms. Williams states that, despite her performance, she was treated differently from her Caucasian colleagues under age forty. See id. at ¶¶ 27-30. Plaintiff alleges in her FAC that she was an employee of both Gyrus and Olympus, id. at ¶ 1, and that Olympus is a "successor interest" to Gyrus. Id. at ¶ 3.

Plaintiff states that, during her employment, she filed three complaints with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing ("DFEH") alleging discriminatory mistreatment: the first on October 15, 2009; the second on October 1, 2010; and the third on October 25, 2011. FAC ¶¶ 31, 35, 44. Plaintiff alleges various forms of retaliation against her with regard to the filing of these three complaints, see, e.g., id. at ¶¶ 36, 39, 43, and alleges that on November 30, 2011, soon after filing her third DFEH complaint, she was terminated. Id. at ¶ 45.

Plaintiff pleads that following her termination, on January 31, 2012, she filed with the DFEH a fourth complaint, numbered E2001112-G, alleging that "Gyrus committed unlawful employment practices against her, in violation of the [Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA")], within the preceding one year." FAC ¶ 18. On January 24, 2013, the DFEH filed a complaint in Santa Clara Superior Court against Gyrus, naming Plaintiff real party in interest.[1] Thereafter, on January 28, 2013, Plaintiff was issued a right-to-sue letter by the DFEH. Plaintiff filed her initial complaint in state court in this action, naming as Defendants Gyrus and Does 1-50, on January 21, 2014. Then, on February 4, 2014, Plaintiff filed the operative FAC, adding Olympus as a Defendant. On February 21, 2014, the action was removed to this district, and on April 17, 2014, it was reassigned to the undersigned.

Olympus moved to dismiss on April 1, 2014.[2] After Olympus moved to dismiss, Plaintiff "requested that the DFEH correct her [administrative] complaint" to add Olympus as a defendant employer, which DFEH did on June 20, 2014. See Opp. to Mot. to Dismiss at 6.

Following a stay, during which Plaintiff retained new counsel, Plaintiff filed her Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss on August 14, 2014, ECF 46, to which Defendant timely replied. ECF 47. The Court heard oral argument on September 4, 2014.


A. Rule 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) concerns what facts a plaintiff must plead on the face of her claim. Under Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Any complaint that does not meet this requirement can be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). In interpreting Rule 8(a)'s "short and plain statement" requirement, the Supreme Court has held that a plaintiff must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, " Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), which requires that "the plaintiff plead factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). This standard does not ask a plaintiff to plead facts that suggest she will probably prevail, but rather "it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court must "accept factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519, F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). The Court is not, however, forced to "assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Kane v. Chobani, Inc., 973 F.Supp.2d 1120, 1127 (N.D. Cal. 2014) (citing Fayer v. Vaughn, 649 F.3d 1061, 1064 (9th Cir. 2011)).

B. Leave to Amend

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a court should grant leave to amend a complaint "when justice so requires, " because "the purpose of Rule 15... [is] to facilitate decision on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or ...

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