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Baker v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Diego

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 23, 2015

MICHELE BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF SAN DIEGO; ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF SAN DIEGO dba CATHEDRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL; CATHEDRAL CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS; DENYING MOTION TO STRIKE; DENYING LEAVE TO AMEND

JEFFREY T. MILLER, District Judge.

Defendant The Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego ("RCBSD"), erroneously sued as Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Diego, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Diego dba Cathedral Catholic High School and Cathedral Catholic High School, moves to dismiss all claims alleged in Plaintiff Michele Baker's disability discrimination Second Amended Complaint ("SAC"). Plaintiff opposes the motion. Pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(d)(1), the court finds the matters presented appropriate for decision without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the court denies the motion to dismiss the disability discrimination claim, grants the motion to dismiss the wrongful termination claim, grants the motion to dismiss the declaratory relief claim, denies the motion to strike, and denies Plaintiff leave to amend.

BACKGROUND

On April 4, 2014, RCBSD removed this action from the Superior Court for the State of California, County of San Diego, based upon federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441, and 1446. The SAC alleges three claims for relief: (1) disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12112 et seq.; (2) retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of California public policy; and (3) declaratory and injunctive relief. (Ct. Dkt. 22). All of Plaintiff's claims arise from the following generally described conduct.

Plaintiff, a 67 year old teacher, was employed by RCBSD for over 13 years at the Cathedral Catholic High School ("CCHS"). (FAC ¶ 9). On August 23, 2012, Plaintiff "sustained and/or aggravated and/or developed perceived and/or physical disability(s) as a result of a fall in a stairwell at Defendants' school causing Plaintiff to strike her head." (SAC ¶ 13). As a result of the fall, Plaintiff suffered, and continues to suffer, from "vision problems, including symptoms of dizziness, instability, loss of balance, and double vision and migraine headaches." Id . Plaintiff has fallen on several occasions and is no longer able to drive at night. As a consequence of her injuries, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant perceived or regarded her as a disabled person having an impairment preventing her from engaging in major life activities. (SAC ¶ 16).

After the fall, Plaintiff requested, and received, a one week leave of absence under the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA"). (SAC ¶ 17). At RCBSD's request, Plaintiff filed a workers compensation claim. While on leave or on negotiated leave, Plaintiff received electronic communications from the principal of CCHS, Michael Deely, "pressuring her to return to work." (SAC ¶ 18). Between September and December 2012, Principal Deely inquired about Plaintiff's health and was told by Plaintiff that she continued to suffer from double-vision, dizziness, and migraines. (SAC ¶ 20).

In January 2013, RCBSD conducted a performance review of Plaintiff, the first review since 2009. Plaintiff alleges that the true reason for the performance review was to falsely accuse Plaintiff of incompetence and to facilitate pretextual reasons for the wrongful termination. (SAC ¶ 23). In February 2013, Principal Deely, "informed Plaintiff that various categories of work performance and work behavior were areas for growth' and that her contract was not being renewed." (SAC ¶ 25). On August 8, 2013, Plaintiff alleges that she was "wrongfully terminated for the stated reason that Plaintiff had performance problems." (SAC ¶ 27).

Between August 2012 and August 2013, Plaintiff's disabilities and conditions continued. After her injury, Defendants allegedly began harassing, discriminating against, and retaliating against Plaintiff in the following alleged terms and conditions of employment:

"a. Failing to determine the extent of Plaintiff's disability(s) and how they could be accommodated;

b. Failing to take any affirmative steps to inform Plaintiff of any job opportunities within the company;

c. Failing to consider Plaintiff for and move Plaintiff into openings for which Plaintiff was qualified and could handle subject to Plaintiff's disability(s);

d. Failing to engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process with Plaintiff to determine effective reasonable accommodations;

e. Harassing, discriminating against and retaliating against Plaintiff based on Plaintiff's perceived and/or physical disability(s), as herein alleged;

f. Harassing, discriminating against and retaliating against Plaintiff based on taking and/or requesting and/or being entitled to CFRA/FMLA and/or other medical and/or negotiated leave in order to recuperate and heal, as herein alleged;

g. Harassing, discriminating against and retaliating against Plaintiff based on age, over ...


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