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Smith v. Level 3 Communications Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 30, 2014

TRACY TEMPLETON SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS INC., Defendant.

ORDER RE MOTION TO DISMISS

WILLIAM ALSUP, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

In this wrongful termination action, defendant moves to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. To the extent stated below, defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED. Plaintiff also requested judicial notice of several documents allegedly from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. That request is DENIED.

STATEMENT

The following well-pled facts are assumed to be true for purposes of the present motion. Plaintiff is Tracy Templeton Smith. Defendant is Level 3 Communications, plaintiff's former employer. Plaintiff began working for Level 3 in March 2007. She was promoted to the position of director of large enterprise accounts in 2010. She participated in Level 3's incentive compensation plan, under which commissions were forfeited if an employee was no longer with the firm at the end of a given month or year. Plaintiff was due a large commission if she had still been employed by Level 3 at the end of 2013 (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 7).

In April 2013, plaintiff's mother was diagnosed with cancer. Plaintiff engaged in several conversations with Level 3's human resources department regarding her need to take time off to care for her mother. Plaintiff was told that she would need to use all of her stored up vacation time, which included sick leave time, before she could use FMLA or CFRA leave time. In the summer of 2013, Level 3 conducted a significant reduction in force. Plaintiff was terminated in September of 2013 (Compl. ¶¶ 5-6, 8-9).

Plaintiff's complaint asserts the following seven claims: (1) violations of California Labor Code Sections 206.5 and 432.5, relating to a post-termination release that Level 3 offered plaintiff in exchange for a severance payment; (2) violations of California Labor Code Sections 201, 203, and 216 for failing to pay wages due upon termination; (3) violations of California Labor Code Sections 201, 203, 216, 219, and 221-23 relating to Level 3's commission plan; (4) violations of California Labor Code Sections "233 et seq." relating to Level 3's alleged harassment of plaintiff; (5) violations of the CFRA relating to Level 3 allegedly forcing plaintiff to use sick time before taking CFRA leave; (6) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; and (7) unfair business practices under Business and Professions Code Section 17200.

ANALYSIS

1. JUDICIAL NOTICE.

Plaintiff seeks judicial notice of two letters allegedly from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The first letter acknowledges receipt of a complaint and the second is a right-to-sue notice. Neither of these letters is signed and both are clearly labeled "DRAFT."

A court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it: "(1) is generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction; or (2) can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." FRE 201(b).

Here, the documents are subject to reasonable dispute and their accuracy can be reasonably questioned. The letters contain no signatures from anyone at the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and both letters are clearly labeled "DRAFT." Thus, plaintiff's requests for judicial notice are DENIED.

2. PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS.

To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Rule 12(b)(6); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). A claim is facially plausible when there are sufficient factual allegations to draw a reasonable inference that defendants are liable for the misconduct alleged. While a court "must take all of the factual allegations in the complaint as true, " it is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "[C]onclusory allegations of law and unwarranted ...


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