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Madani v. County of Santa Clara

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

March 23, 2017

NAYEREH MADANI, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NO. 15

          LUCY H. KOH United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Nayereh Madani (“Plaintiff”) brings this suit for disability, age, and national origin discrimination against Defendant County of Santa Clara (“Defendant”). Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 15. Having considered the parties' briefing, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         On February 2, 2004, Plaintiff began working for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (“Medical Center”) as a Nurse Coordinator. ECF No. 1, Complaint (“Compl.”) ¶ 9. In May 2005, Plaintiff was promoted to Assistant Nurse Manager. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff provided patient care and coordinated support staff. Id.

         On April 29, 2009, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Defendant in the Superior Court of California for the County of Santa Clara, Case No. 1-09-CV-141316. The case involved claims for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, failure to accommodate, defamation, and violations of public policy. Id. ¶ 11. The state court case settled in December 2009.[1] Id.

         On February 9, 2012, Plaintiff sent to Medical Center a letter in which Plaintiff asserted that “Edna Esguerra has created a hostile work environment for me by persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behavior.” Id. ¶ 12. The letter allegedly did not prevent Esguerra's continued hostile conduct, and as a result, Plaintiff took disability leave from May 2012 to January 2013. Id. ¶ 13. On Plaintiff's return to work, Plaintiff took a reduced work schedule “in order to manage her stress and anxiety.” Id.

         On March 27, 2013, Esguerra informed Plaintiff by letter that Esguerra was recommending that Plaintiff be suspended from her position as Assistant Nurse Manager for two work weeks. Id. ¶ 14. Esguerra stated in the letter that she made the recommendation based on Plaintiff's violation of “certain Merit System Rules and Department Policies or Procedures.” Id.

         On April 25, 2013, a hearing was held on Plaintiff's suspension, and on June 19, 2013, Medical Center issued a written decision “upholding the suspension recommendation of ten (10) work days.” Id. Plaintiff served her suspension from July 29, 2013 to August 11, 2013. Id.

         On August 2, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint of Employment Discrimination (“August 2, 2013 Administrative Charge”) with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) and the federal United States Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).[2] ECF No. 16-1.[3] The administrative charge alleges that Plaintiff suffered discrimination on the basis of her race, national origin, religion, and disability. Id. at 2.

         On September 19, 2013, Esguerra placed Plaintiff on administrative leave. Id. The complaint does not allege how long the administrative leave lasted. Id.

         Six months later, on March 6, 2014, Esguerra recommended that Plaintiff be demoted from her position as “Assistant Nurse Manager to [] Clinical Nurse II with no [Registered Nurse] responsibilities.” Id. ¶ 15. The recommendation for a demotion was based on violation of “certain Merit System Rules and Department Policies or Procedures.” Id. On March 25, 2014, a hearing was held on Plaintiff's demotion. Id. On June 4, 2014, Esguerra amended her letter to include more allegations, such as Plaintiff's prior July 29, 2013 to August 11, 2013 suspension. Id.

         On August 26, 2014, a decision was issued that demoted Plaintiff from her position as Assistant Nurse Manager to Clinical Nurse II. Id. ¶ 16. Plaintiff started her new position on September 15, 2014. Id.

         After Plaintiff's demotion, Plaintiff requested reduced work hours and a modified work schedule as reasonable accommodations for a disability. Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff alleges that Medical Center did not engage in a “good-faith interactive process” and did not provide the requested accommodations.

         On January 27, 2015, Medical Center placed Plaintiff on paid administrative leave. Id. ¶ 21. On October 26, 2015, Plaintiff filed a second administrative charge alleging employment discrimination (“October 26, 2015 Administrative Charge”) with the DFEH and cross-filed the charge with the EEOC. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff's complaint does not allege what actions were challenged by the October 26, 2015 Administrative Charge. On September 14, 2016, DFEH issued a “Notice of Case Closure and Right to Sue Letter.” Id. ¶ 23.

         On November 30, 2016, Medical Center terminated Plaintiff's position at Medical Center. Id. ¶ 24. On December 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed a third charge of employment discrimination (“December 7, 2016 Administrative Charge”) with DFEH, and obtained a second Notice of Case Closure and Right to Sue.[4] Id. ¶ 25. Once again, Plaintiff's complaint does not allege what actions were challenged by the December 7, 2016 Administrative Charge.

         B. Procedural History

         On December 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant suit against Defendant. See Compl. Plaintiff's complaint alleges 11 causes of action: (1) disability discrimination in violation of the federal American's with Disabilities Act (“ADA”); (2) disability discrimination in violation of the California Fair Employment Housing Act (“FEHA”); (3) failure to provide reasonable accommodation under the FEHA; (4) failure to engage in a good-faith interactive process concerning Plaintiff's request for reasonable accommodation under the FEHA; (5) wrongful termination in violation of public policy; (6) age discrimination under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”); (7) age discrimination under the FEHA; (8) national origin discrimination under Title VII; (9) national origin discrimination under the FEHA; (10) retaliation; and (11) hostile work environment. FAC ¶¶ 26-101.

         On January 30, 2017, Defendant filed the instant motion to dismiss. See Mot. On February 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed an opposition, ECF No. 19 (“Opp'n”), and on March 13, 2017, Defendant filed a reply, ECF No. 25 (“Reply”).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

         A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) should be granted when a complaint does not plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

         For purposes of ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court “accept[s] factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe[s] the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). The Court, however, need not accept as true allegations contradicted by judicially noticeable facts, see Shwarz v. United States, 234 F.3d 428, 435 (9th Cir. 2000), and it “may look beyond the plaintiff's complaint to matters of public record” without converting the Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a motion for summary judgment, Shaw v. Hahn, 56 F.3d 1128, 1129 n.1 (9th Cir. 1995). Nor must the Court “assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations.” Fayer v. Vaughn, 649 F.3d 1061, 1064 (9th Cir. 2011) (per curiam). Mere “conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss.” Adams v. Johnson, 355 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 2004).

         B. Leave to Amend

         If the Court concludes that the complaint should be dismissed, it must then decide whether to grant leave to amend. Under Rule 15(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, leave to amend “shall be freely given when justice so requires, ” bearing in mind “the underlying purpose of Rule 15 . . . [is] to facilitate decision on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or technicalities.” Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1127 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (internal quotation marks omitted). Nonetheless, a district court may deny leave to amend a complaint due to “undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of allowance of the amendment, [and] futility of amendment.See Leadsinger, Inc. v. BMG Music Publ'g, 512 F.3d 522, 532 (9th Cir. 2008).

         III. DISCUSSION

         In the instant motion, Defendant argues that (1) Plaintiff's sixth cause of action for age discrimination under the ADEA and seventh cause of action for age discrimination under the FEHA, to the extent they are based on Plaintiff's July 29, 2013 to August 11, 2013 suspension, are barred because Plaintiff failed to file an administrative charge within the relevant statute of limitations; (2) Plaintiffs first and second causes of action for disability discrimination under the ADA and the FEHA, sixth and seventh causes of action for age discrimination under the ADEA and the FEHA, and eighth and ninth causes of action for national origin discrimination under Title VII and the FEHA, to the extent they are based on Plaintiffs September 15, 2014 demotion, are barred because Plaintiff failed to file an administrative charge within the relevant statute of limitations; (3) Plaintiffs fifth cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy is barred by the California Government Tort Claims Act, Cal. Gov't Code § 815 et seq.; (4) Plaintiffs eleventh cause of action for hostile work environment is barred either by the California Government Tort Claims Act or because of Plaintiff s failure to file an administrative charge within the relevant statute of limitations. Defendant and Plaintiff also request judicial notice. The Court first addresses the parties' requests for judicial notice, and then addresses each of Defendant's arguments in turn.

         A. Requests for Judicial Notice

         The Court first addresses Defendant's requests for judicial notice, ECF Nos. 16, 26, and Plaintiffs request for judicial notice, ECF No. 19-1. The Court may take judicial notice of matters that are either “generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction” or “can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.” Fed.R.Evid. 201(b). Public records, including judgments and other publicly filed documents, are proper subjects of judicial notice. See, e.g., United States v. Black,482 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2007) (“[Courts] may take notice of proceedings in other courts, both within and without the federal judicial system, if those ...


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