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Rachel Kremer v. Zillow, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California, Southern Division

February 3, 2015

RACHEL KREMER, Plaintiff,
v.
ZILLOW, INC., Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [12]

DAVID O. CARTER, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 12). Having considered the papers, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Defendant's Motion.

I. Background

A. Facts Alleged in Complaint

This case arises from Plaintiff Rachel Kremer's allegations that her employer Defendant Zillow, Inc. ("Zillow") subjected her to a sexually hostile work environment. Zillow is an online home and real estate marketplace for home buyers, sellers, renters, real estate agents, mortgage professionals, landlords, and property managers. See Compl. (Dkt. 1) ¶ 3. Zillow operates the largest real estate and rental advertising networks in the country. Id. Ms. Kremer began working at Zillow on June 25, 2012 as an Inside Sales Consultant. Id. ¶ 1.

Ms. Kremer alleges that Zillow management "routinely and unapologetically" subjected her to "despicable and inappropriate sexual conduct" throughout her employment. Id. ¶ 8. Ms. Kremer's complaint lists nearly a dozen examples of sexual harassment. Most of them involve sexual text messages and comments by her supervisor Gabe Schmidt and another Zillow employee Cody Fagnant between December 2012 and June 2014. Id. ¶¶ 10, 12, 14. The examples include:

• On February 9, 2013, Mr. Schmidt invited Ms. Kremer to join him at a popular Newport Beach restaurant, 3 Thirty 3 Waterfront, texting her, "Call me. Matt is showering. Thinking 333 dinner drink and your smooth vagina." Id. ¶ 10(c), Ex. C;
• On February 17, 2013, Mr. Schmidt texted to Ms. Kremer, "Wanna blow me and have sex tonight?" Id. ¶ 10(d), Ex. D;
• On June 11, 2014, Mr. Schmidt sent a picture of male genitalia to Ms. Kremer with other lewd commentary. Id. ¶ 10(g), Ex. G;
• On July 26, 2013 and again on September 28, 2013, a "belligerently drunk" Mr. Fagnant cornered Ms. Kremer and told her, "I want to fuck the shit out of you." Id. ¶ 12.

Ms. Kremer alleges that these types of communications were commonplace at the Zillow office in southern California, which had an "adult frat house" culture. Id. ¶ 11.

Ms. Kremer alleges that the sexual harassment she experienced adversely impacted her work performance, causing her to be unable to meet her sales goals in July and August 2014. On August 29, 2014, she was informed that her employment was being terminated for failure to meet her sales goals. She did not receive any warnings nor was she given an opportunity to explain the decline in her work performance, as was the normal practice at Zillow. Another Zillow employee from her hire class was not terminated even though the employee's job performance was nearly identical to Ms. Kremer's. Id. ¶ 17.

B. Text Messages

In support of its Motion, Defendant submitted a declaration by defense counsel Steven G. Sklaver attaching two exhibits containing over 1, 600 text messages exchanged between Mr. Schmidt and Ms. Kremer between June 2013 and August 2014. Sklaver Decl. (Dkts. 13, 29). Some ...


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