United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND RE: DKT., 10
NATHANAEL M. COUSINS United States Magistrate Judge
sues his employer, Marriott Hotel, for paying wages lower
than the San Jose City minimum wage ordinance. Marriott
argues that the collective bargaining agreement which covers
McCray's employment expressly waives the San Jose
ordinance, in exchange for providing hourly employees with
additional benefits not guaranteed by law. McCray moves to
remand the case to state court because the complaint is based
only on state law causes of action. Defendants move to
dismiss and oppose the motion to remand because cases
requiring the interpretation of a collective bargaining
agreement are exclusively within the realm of federal
the Court finds that the San Jose City ordinance provides a
waiver of the minimum wage and the CBA expressly waives the
minimum wage, the Court concludes that federal jurisdiction
is proper and DENIES the motion to remand.
February 5, 2016, plaintiff Ian McCray sued defendants
Marriott Hotel Services, Inc. (a Delaware corporation) and
SJMEC, Inc. (a California corporation), in state court,
alleging that defendants pay plaintiff and other employees
less than minimum wage as required by the city of San Jose.
Dkt. No. 1, Exh A. The complaint contains only state law
causes of action.
April 20, 2016, defendants removed the case to federal court.
Dkt. No. 1. In their removal notice, defendants argue that
McCray's complaint is preempted by the collective
bargaining agreement ("CBA") that governs
McCray's employment. Id. at 3. Defendants note
that when the interpretation of a collective bargaining
agreement is at issue in a case, then federal subject matter
jurisdiction is proper. Id.
April 27, 2016, defendants filed a motion to dismiss the
complaint, arguing that McCray's dispute was governed by
the CBA, and as such, McCray had to follow the procedural
requirements for dispute resolution there first. Dkt. No. 8.
Specifically, McCray should have filed an appropriate
grievance, and regardless, the CBA requires parties to attend
arbitration. Id. On May 4, McCray moved to remand
the case to state court, arguing that federal jurisdiction
over the complaint is not proper because McCray did not plead
any federal causes of action. Dkt. No. 10. The Court held a
hearing on the motions on June 1, 2016, and took the motions
Court first considers the motion to remand. All parties have
consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate judge. Dkt.
Nos. 12, 14.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and are
presumptively without jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Removal
of a state court action to federal court is appropriate only
if the federal court would have had original subject matter
jurisdiction over the suit. See 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). A federal district court must remand a removed case
to state court "[i]f at any time before the final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). In
deciding whether removal was proper, courts strictly construe
the removal statute against finding jurisdiction, and the
party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of
establishing that removal was appropriate. Provincial
Gov't of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d
1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). Where doubt
exists regarding the right to remove an action, it should be
resolved in favor of remand to state court. Matheson v.
Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th
McCray's complaint contains only state law causes of
action and no allegation that the parties are diverse.
However, Marriott's defense to the complaint is that the
CBA governs and contains an express waiver of the relevant
absence of diversity jurisdiction, removal to federal court
is only proper when "a federal question is presented on
the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint." Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482
U.S. 386, 392 (1987). "Federal jurisdiction cannot be
predicated on an actual or anticipated defense . . . [n]or
can federal jurisdiction rest upon an actual or anticipated
counterclaim. Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49,
under Section 301 of the LMRA, disputes regarding collective
bargaining agreements are exclusively governed by federal
jurisdiction. Section 301 provides, "[s]uits for
violation of contracts between an employer and a labor
organization representing employees in an industry affecting
commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such
labor organizations, may be brought in any ...