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Carranza v. Nordstrom, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 12, 2014

JAIME CARRANZA, an individual, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
NORDSTROM, INC., a Washington corporation, and DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, Defendants

For Jaime Carranza, an individual, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff: Amy Tai Wootton, Christopher J Hamner, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Hamner Law Offices APC, Los Angeles, CA.

For Nordstrom Inc, a Washington Corporation, Defendant: Joshua D Levine, Julie A Dunne, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Littler Mendelson, San Diego, CA; Dominic John Messiha, Littler Mendelson PC, Los Angeles, CA.

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND

MARGARET M. MORROW, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

On July 15, 2014, Jaime Carranza filed this putative class action against Nordstrom, Inc., (" Nordstrom") and various unnamed defendants in San Bernardino Superior Court.[1] Nordstrom removed the action on August 15, 2014, invoking the court's diversity jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (" CAFA") of 2005, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2).[2] Carranza filed a motion to remand the action to San Bernardino Superior Court on September 10, 2014, [3] which Nordstrom opposes.[4]

Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the court finds this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. The hearing calendared for December 15, 2014, is therefore vacated, and the matter is taken off calendar.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. Factual Allegations Concerning All Plaintiffs

Carranza was employed by Nordstrom at its fulfillment center in San Bernardino, California, in March and April 2014.[5] He and the members of the putative class he seeks to represent are current and former non-exempt, hourly employees of Nordstrom who were allegedly subjected to an on-premises security screening each day after they clocked out for meal periods, rest periods, and at the end of a shift.[6] Carranza alleges that Nordstrom hires hourly employees at its fulfillment centers throughout California and requires, as a condition of employment, that the employees submit to daily security searches on the premises to protect property and prevent loss of merchandise through employee theft.[7] Nordstrom employees purportedly cannot refuse to submit to this security search or they will be subject to immediate termination or reprimand.[8]

Carranza asserts that the searches are similar to the security screening performed at airports; Nordstrom employees are purportedly required to remove all personal belongings, such as wallets, keys, and belts, and pass through metal detectors before being allowed to leave the fulfillment centers.[9] Carranza alleges that due to the security searches, employees left their personal belongings in their vehicles, with the result that they could not engage in personal activities while being screened or waiting to be screened.[10]

Carranza contends that Nordstrom's policy regarding the searches was systematic and continuous, and had a common impact on all Nordstrom employees subject to it, in that they were routinely denied uninterrupted, compliant meal periods and rest periods, and were not compensated for the time they were under Nordstrom's control being screened or waiting to be screened.[11] He asserts that because of the search policy, employees spent five to fifteen minutes of their meal period each day in screening, with the result that the employee had only a fifteen to twenty-five minute meal period.[12] Employees who wished to take off-premises rest breaks likewise were subject to search; consequently, they were allegedly not permitted a full ten minute duty-free rest period as required under California law.[13] Carranza alleges that, at the end of a shift, employees were first required to clock out, and then had to undergo individualized security inspections, which necessitated that they remain on-premises fifteen to thirty minutes after they had clocked out.[14]

Employees purportedly remained under Nordstrom's control during the time they were waiting to be searched and undergoing a search by Nordstrom security officers.[15] Because the security screening was for Nordstrom's benefit, Carranza alleges that the time employees spent participating in the security process was compensable; he contends that Nordstrom, as a matter of policy and practice, failed to compensate employees for time spent waiting to be screened at the end of a shift or after an employee had clocked out for a meal or rest period.[16]

B. The Putative Class and Subclasses

Carranza seeks to represent a class of " [a]ll current and former non-exempt employees employed by Defendants at NORDSTROM Fulfillment Centers in the State of California at any time beginning four years prior to the filing of this Complaint [and up] to the commencement of trial in this action[; ] [the class] includes persons paid through third-party staffing agencies." [17] He also seeks to represent eight subclasses:[18]

Unpaid Straight-Time Subclass: All members of the proposed class who were subject to Defendants' policy and/or practice of requiring said employees to submit to individualized on-premises searches after having clocked-out in a given workday and who were not compensated by Defendants at their regular rate of pay for the amount of time it took to complete the security screening process;
Unpaid Overtime Subclass: All members of the proposed class who were subject to Defendants' policy and/or practice of requiring said employees to submit to individualized on-premises searches after having clocked-out in a given workday and who were not compensated for the amount of time it took to complete the security screening at appropriate overtime rate of pay for hours worked in excess of eight (8) hours in a day or forty (40) in a workweek, or appropriate double-time rate of pay for hours worked in excess of twelve (12) hours in a day;
First Meal Period Subclass: All members of the proposed class who were subject to Defendants' policy and/or practice of requiring said employees to submit to individualized on-premises searches after having clocked-out for their first meal period, and who, as a result of the delay by the security clearance process, were not provided with full 30-minutes of uninterrupted, off-duty meal period time and who were not provided with compensation of one hour's pay at the employee's regular rate of pay;
Second Meal Period Subclass: All members of the proposed class who were subject to Defendants' policy and/or practice of requiring said employees to submit to individualized on-premises searches after having clocked-out for their second meal period (for shifts exceeding 10 hours in length) and who, as a result of the delay by Defendants' security clearance process, were not provided with full 30-minutes of uninterrupted, off-duty meal period time and who were not provided with compensation of one hour's pay at the employee's regular rate of pay;
Rest Period Subclass: All members of the proposed class who worked periods of four hours or major fraction thereof who, as a result of defendants' policy and/or practice of requiring said employees to submit to individualized on-premises searches, were not permitted to take an uninterrupted rest period of at least 10 minutes in length, and who were not paid compensation of one hour's pay at the employee's regular rate of pay for each such day that a full 10 minutes uninterrupted rest period was not provided;
Waiting Time Subclass: All members of the proposed class who, within three years of the filing of the complaint, were not paid all wages due at the time of their respective separation/termination from the company based on the defendants' failure to pay all wages earned as a result of defendants' individualized on-premises search policy requirement;
Wage Statement Subclass: All members of the proposed class who, within one year of the filing of the complaint, were subject to a company practice of failing to accurately itemize wage statements as a result of defendants' individualized on-premises search policy requirement; and
UCL Subclass: All members of the proposed class who are entitled to the restitution of unpaid wages that occurred as a result of the employee being subject to defendants' on-premises search policy requirements.

C. Carranza's Claims

On behalf of the class and subclasses, Carranza pleads claims for (1) failure to pay hourly wages in violation of California Labor Code § § 204, 1194 and Industrial Welfare Commission (" IWC") Wage Order 2-2001; [19] (2) failure to pay overtime compensation in violation of California Labor Code § § 204, 510, 1194 and IWC Wage Order 2-2001; [20] (3) failure to provide meal periods in violation of California Labor Code § § 226.7, 512, IWC Wage Order 5, and California Code of Regulations, Title 8, § 11050; [21] (4) failure to provide rest periods in violation of California Labor Code § § 226.7, 512, IWC Wage Order 5, and California Code of Regulations, Title 8, § 11050; [22] (5) waiting time penalties in violation of California Labor Code § § 201-203; [23] (6) knowing and intentional failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements in violation of California Labor Code § 226; [24] (7) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law (" UCL"), California Business and Professions Code § 17200 et seq .; [25] and (8) a private attorney general (" PAGA") action under California Labor Code § 2698 et seq . for violations of the Labor Code.[26]

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard Governing Removal Jurisdiction

" Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). " If at any time before final judgment[, however, ] it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

The right to remove a case to federal court is entirely a creature of statute. See Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979). The original removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, allows defendants to remove when a case originally filed in state court presents a federal question or is between citizens of different states and involves an amount in controversy that exceeds $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C. § § 1441 (a), (b); see also 28 U.S.C. § § 1331, 1332(a). Only state court actions that could originally have been filed in federal court can be removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); see Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S.Ct. 2425, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987); Ethridge v. Harbor House Rest., 861 F.2d 1389. 1393 (9th Cir. 1988).

The Ninth Circuit " strictly construe[s] the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, " and " [f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing Boggs v. Lewis, 863 F.2d 662, 663(9th Cir. 1988), Takeda v. Northwestern Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 765 F.2d 815, 818 (9th Cir. 1985), and Libhart, 592 F.2d at 1064). " The 'strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Id. (citing Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n. 3 (9th Cir. 1990); Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 ...


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