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Johnson v. United Continental Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 2, 2015

ELDRIDGE JOHNSON, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO SEVER; DIRECTIONS TO CLERK; DIRECTIONS TO PLAINTIFFS

MAXINE M. CHESNEY, District Judge.

Before the Court is defendants United Air Lines, Inc. ("United") and Continental Airlines, Inc.'s ("Continental") "Motion to Sever Parties and Claims, " filed October 3, 2014. Plaintiffs have filed opposition, to which defendants have replied. Having read and considered the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the motion, the Court rules as follows.[1]

BACKGROUND

The instant action is brought on behalf of twenty-three United employees who allege employment discrimination claims. Twenty-one of the plaintiffs are employed by United as Captains (collectively, "Captain Plaintiffs"), specifically, Odie Briscoe ("Briscoe"), Sal Crocker ("Crocker"), Mario Ecung ("Ecung"), Ken Haney ("Haney"), Terence Hartsfield ("Hartsfield"), Terry Haynie ("Haynie"), Richard John ("John"), Eldridge Johnson ("Johnson"), Johnnie E. Jones, Jr. ("Jones"), Anthony Manswell ("Manswell"), Leon Miller ("Miller"), Karl Minter ("Minter"), Paul C. Noble ("Noble"), Xavier Palmer ("Palmer"), David Ricketts ("Ricketts"), Glen Roane ("Roane"), Frederick Robinson ("Robinson"), Leo Sherman ("Sherman), Lester Tom ("Tom"), Erwin Washington ("Washington"), and Darryl Wilson ("Wilson"). The remaining two plaintiffs are employed by United as Operations Supervisors (collectively, "Operations Supervisor Plaintiffs"), specifically, Annette Gadson ("Gadson") and Ken Montgomery ("Montgomery").

The operative complaint is the Fourth Amended Complaint ("4AC"), filed January 3, 2014, in which plaintiffs allege disparate treatment, disparate impact and hostile work environment claims. By order filed June 27, 2014, as amended August 5, 2014, the Court granted in part defendants' motion to dismiss the 4AC, and, in so doing, dismissed certain of the disparate treatment claims and all of the disparate impact claims. The remaining claims challenge voluminous assertedly adverse employment decisions, and can be grouped in four categories.

First, plaintiffs allege disparate treatment claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, Title VII and/or the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"), based on the assertion that sixteen plaintiffs applied for and did not receive promotions to specified management positions (see 4AC ¶¶ 620, 629, 634), on account of racial discrimination (see 4AC ¶¶ 618, 627, 634). The challenged positions were available at multiple locations throughout the United States over the course of more than a decade. (See, e.g., 4AC ¶ 488 (challenging Robinson's failure in 1999 to receive "737 fleet captain position" in Colorado), ¶ 526 (challenging Manswell's failure to receive in 2001 "A-320 Line Check Airman promotion" in Virginia), ¶ 593 (challenging Sherman's failure to receive in 2009 "737 Chief Pilot promotion" in Texas), ¶ 304 (challenging John's failure to receive in 2012 "Flight Operations Duty Manager" position in New Jersey).) Under this theory, plaintiffs challenge a total of 138 failures to promote, as follows:

(1) Briscoe - challenging two failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 574-575);
(2) Crocker - challenging fourteen failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 239-252);
(3) Gadson - challenging one failure to promote (see 4AC ¶ 450);
(4) Hartsfield - challenging one failure to promote (see 4AC ¶ 563);
(5) John - challenging forty-six failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 283-292, 294-318, 320-330);
(6) Johnson - challenging five failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 188-192);
(7) Jones - challenging twenty-two failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 211-225);
(8) Manswell - challenging three failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 525-527);
(9) Minter - challenging six failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 410-415);
(10) Montgomery - challenging three failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 432-434);
(11) Noble - challenging one failure to promote (see 4AC ¶ 355);
(12) Roane - challenging six failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 371-376);
(13) Robinson - challenging one failure to promote (see 4AC ¶ 488);
(14) Sherman - challenging fourteen failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 593-604, 610);
(15) Tom - challenging two failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 393-394); and
(16) Wilson - challenging eleven failures to promote (see 4AC ¶¶ 265-269).

Second, on behalf of each of the twenty-three plaintiffs, plaintiffs allege disparate treatment claims under § 1981, Title VII and/or FEHA, based on the assertion that plaintiffs were "precluded, " on account of racial discrimination, from applying for promotions to specified management positions that defendants filled without a "general posting." (See 4AC ¶¶ 178, 619, 628, 634.) The challenged positions were available at multiple locations throughout the United States over the course of five years. (See, e.g., 4AC at 24:19-21 (challenging various plaintiffs' failures to receive in 2008 "Acting Chief Pilot position" in California); 4AC at 26:1-3 (challenging various plaintiffs' failures to receive in 2012 "Flight Operations Duty Manager" position in Virginia).) Under this theory, plaintiffs challenge 226 failures to promote, as follows:

(1) Briscoe - challenging fourteen failures to promote (see 4AC at 24:16-26:3);
(2) Crocker - challenging six failures to promote (see 4AC at 25:13-26:3);
(3) Ecung - challenging fourteen failures to promote (see 4AC ...

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