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Cofer v. Parker-Hannifin Corp.

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

July 8, 2016

HERBERT COFER, Plaintiff,
v.
PARKER-HANNIFIN CORPORATION; DAVID CONLON, an individual; KIM MELTON, an individual; FRANK DUBEY, an i individual; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND

          CORMAC J. CARNEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Herbert Cofer brought this action against his former employer, Parker-Hannifin Corporation (Parker), and Parker employees David Conlon, Kim Melton, and Frank Dubey. Mr. Cofer filed his complaint in Orange County Superior Court in February 2016 and Parker removed the action to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. (Dkt. 1.) Mr. Cofer is asserting a harassment claim against all defendants, as well as claims for race discrimination, age discrimination, failure to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliation, and wrongful discharge against Parker only. All claims have been brought under California state law. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss all claims in the Complaint, (Dkt. 11), and the Court granted it in part. Mr. Cofer has now filed his First Amended Complaint (FAC), (Dkt. 23), and Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss only his claims for harassment and failure to prevent harassment, as well as his pleadings seeking punitive damages. (Dkt. 24.)

         As explained below, though Mr. Cofer has alleged facts that state a plausible case of workplace discrimination, he has not stated viable claims for harassment or failure to prevent harassment. The Court therefore DISMISSES the claims for harassment and failure to prevent harassment. The Court DENIES Defendants' motion to dismiss the portions of Mr. Cofer's complaint pertaining to punitive damages.

         Mr. Cofer has filed a motion to remand this case to state court on the basis that there is not complete diversity between himself and Defendants. (Dkt. 25.) Though Parker is not a citizen of California, Mr. Cofer and the individual defendants are. Nonetheless, the only claims against the individual defendants are the harassment claim and the failure to prevent harassment claim. Both of those claims were dismissed in the first motion to dismiss and Mr. Cofer was given leave to amend his complaint. Mr. Cofer's FAC has again failed to state a valid claim for harassment or failure to prevent harassment. California law on the issue is sufficiently settled for this Court to conclude that the joinder of the individual Defendants is fraudulent. The only defendant left in the case after dismissal, Parker, is not a California citizen and therefore does not defeat diversity. Accordingly, Mr. Cofer's motion to remand is DENIED.

         Because Mr. Cofer has already been given leave to amend his complaint once and has shown no sign that he is able to add sufficient facts to state a plausible claim for harassment, his harassment-related claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.[1]

         II. BACKGROUND

         In 1990, Parker hired Mr. Cofer, a black man, as a Senior Contract Administrator, and Mr. Cofer was promoted many times until he eventually became Staff Program Administrative Manager in 2010. (FAC. ¶¶ 10, 14.) In March or April of 2012, Mr. Cofer applied for the position of Director of Program Management. (FAC. ¶18.) Though Mr. Cofer had over 32 years' experience in the aerospace industry and had worked at Parker for over 20 years, he was not "given a serious interview" for the position. (Id.) In October 2012, defendant Conlon, a white man, was hired for the Director of Program Management position and became Mr. Cofer's supervisor. (FAC ¶ 19.) Another Parker employee, defendant Melton, did not interview Mr. Cofer for the positions to which he applied, and refused to evaluate his qualifications for promotions. (FAC ¶¶ 19.)

         Mr. Cofer filed an EEOC charge against Parker, alleging race discrimination, in November 2012. (FAC ¶ 22.) He asserts that he applied for advancement within the company and was falsely told that he was not qualified, and that the people who were ultimately hired to the positions he sought were white. (Id.)

         In November 2013, Mr. Cofer was denied training on a new software tool and not allowed to attend various program reviews, program meetings, and meetings wit upper management, even though one of his direct subordinates was included in the meetings. (FAC ¶26.) From 2012 through 2014, Mr. Cofer applied for several other positions at Parker, but was never hired, and was also passed over for several internal transfers. (FAC ¶¶ 21, 23, 25, 28, 29.) He remained employed, but was not given a performance review he was due on July 21, 2015. (FAC ¶ 35.)

         Mr. Cofer's complaint alleges that in addition to being passed up for promotions and denied the opportunity to interview, defendants Conlon, Melton, and Dubey den him training and planned to terminate him without ever initiating an investigation in claims. (FAC ¶ 36.) Parker terminated Mr. Cofer and three other employees age 55 over in August 2015. (FAC ¶37.)

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. The Motion to Dismiss

         1. ...


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