United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER ON MOTIONS TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NOS. 47, 48,
CHHABRIA United States District Judge
Caponio alleges that Boilermakers Local 549, Boilermakers
Western States Joint Apprenticeship Program, and
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers denied her the
benefits of a joint apprenticeship program because of her sex
and age. She claims that the defendants refused to credit her
with class hours or assign her to projects, causing her to
advance more slowly through the apprenticeship program than
younger, male apprentices. She also alleges that the
defendants retaliated against her when she complained about
the discrimination. Each defendant has filed a separate
motion to dismiss all or a part of the complaint. These
motions are granted in part and denied in part. Caponio's
state-law claims are dismissed, while her federal-law claims
(Causes of Action 6-10) may go forward.
state-law claims are preempted by ERISA. "[A] state-law
cause of action is completely preempted if (1) 'an
individual, at some point in time, could have brought [the]
claim under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B), ' and (2)
'where there is no other independent legal duty that is
implicated by a defendant's actions.'" Marin
Gen. Hosp. v. Modesto & Empire Traction Co., 581
F.3d 941, 946 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Aetna Health Inc.
v. Davila, 542 U.S. 200, 210 (2004)).
first part of the Davila test is met in this case.
The Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program is an ERISA
plan. Second Am. Compl. at 18. The work and class hours that
Caponio contends she was denied are benefits of that plan.
Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 11, 13, 72. Because Caponio is
alleging the denial of benefits in an ERISA plan, she could
have brought her claim under ERISA § 502(a)(1)(B).
Indeed, she has done so elsewhere in the complaint. Second
Am. Compl. ¶¶ 123-28. There is no separate
agreement under which Caponio alleges she was entitled to any
benefits beyond those provided under the apprenticeship
agreement. See Washington v. AT & T Corp., No.
10-cv-03751-LB, 2011 WL 233004, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 24,
2011) ("The fact that Defendant denied Plaintiff's
short-term disability to harass, discriminate, and retaliate
against him may explain why Defendant denied him the
benefits, but it does not change the nature of the claims
themselves."); cf. Marin Gen. Hosp., 581 F.3d
at 947-48 (finding that the first part of the Davila
test was not met because the plaintiff's claims were
based on an alleged oral contract, not obligations under an
argues that she could not have brought her state-law claims
under ERISA because she is seeking the remedies provided by
California's anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation
statutes, not merely the benefits to which she was entitled
under the apprenticeship agreement. But a mismatch in
remedies or the elements of claims is not sufficient to avoid
ERISA complete preemption when the underlying obligation is
provision of ERISA benefits. As the Supreme Court observed in
Davila, "Congress' intent to make the ERISA
civil enforcement mechanism exclusive would be undermined if
state causes of action that supplement the ERISA §
502(a) remedies were permitted, even if the elements of the
state cause of action did not precisely duplicate the
elements of an ERISA claim." Davila, 542 U.S.
at 216; see also Pilot Life Ins. Co. v. Dedeaux, 481
U.S. 41, 54 (1987).
second part of the Davila test is also met because
the defendants' actions do not implicate an independent
legal duty. The defendants were only obligated to provide
benefits to Caponio (and not discriminate against her in
providing those benefits) because of the apprenticeship
program, which is an ERISA plan. See Washington,
2011 WL 233004, at *6 (The plaintiff's discrimination,
harassment, and retaliation claims "still implicate AT
& T's obligations under the plan. Those obligations
would not exist if the plan did not exist."); cf.
Marin Gen. Hosp., 581 F.3d at 950 ("Since the
state-law claims asserted in this case are in no way based on
an obligation under an ERISA plan, and since they would exist
whether or not an ERISA plan existed, they are based on
'other independent legal dut[ies]' within the meaning
ERISA complete preemption analysis in this case is similar to
that in Cleghorn v. Blue Shield of California, 408
F.3d 1222 (9th Cir. 2005). Douglas Cleghorn alleged that Blue
Shield's emergency care policy violated California law,
and he filed claims under California's Unfair Competition
Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act on behalf of himself and
a proposed class. Id. at 1224. The Ninth Circuit
held that these claims were completely preempted because
"[t]he only factual basis for relief pleaded in
Cleghorn's complaint is the refusal of Blue Shield to
reimburse him for the emergency medical care he received. Any
duty or liability that Blue Shield had to reimburse him
'would exist here only because of [Blue Shield's]
administration of ERISA-regulated benefit plans.'"
Id. at 1226 (quoting Davila, 542 U.S. at
213). In this case, the defendants only owed Caponio a duty
not to discriminate against her in providing ERISA benefits
because she was entitled to benefits as an apprentice in the
ERISA apprenticeship program.
raises the concern that ERISA complete preemption in this
context "would effectively insulate all apprenticeship
programs from the application of state anti-discrimination
law." Pl.'s Suppl. Br. at 2 (emphasis omitted).
That's not necessarily true; presumably the state may
directly enforce its own anti-discrimination laws against
apprenticeship programs. In any event, federal
anti-discrimination law still applies. Caponio's central
allegation is that the defendants discriminated and
retaliated against her by denying her ERISA plan benefits.
ERISA completely preempts her state law claims. Dismissal is with
leave to amend to the extent Caponio can, in good faith,
allege a state law claim that does not run afoul of the
preemption rule articulated in this order.
has alleged sufficient facts to support her theory that Local
549, Boilermakers International, and Western States function
as an integrated enterprise. The integrated enterprise inquiry
considers: (1) interrelation of operations, (2) common
management, (3) centralized control of labor relations, and
(4) common ownership or financial control. Kang v. U. Lim
Am., Inc., 296 F.3d 810, 815 (9th Cir. 2002). "[N]o
one of the factors is controlling, nor need all criteria be
present" because whether the parties formed an
integrated enterprise "ultimately depends on 'all
circumstances of the case' and is characterized as an
absence of an 'arm's length relationship'"
among entities. NLRB v. Big Bear Supermarkets No. 3,
640 F.2d 924, 928 (9th Cir. 1980) (quoting NLRB v. Don
Burgess Constr. Corp., 596 F.2d 378, 384 (9th Cir.
1979)). Caponio alleges an interrelation of operations among
the Boilermakers International, Western States, and Local 549
in administering the apprenticeship program. Second Am.
Compl. ¶ 45. She alleges centralized control of labor
relations through the National Joint Rules and Standards
Committee. Id. ¶ 47. She alleges that the
defendants have intertwined finances. Id. ¶ 55.
And she alleges financial control by Boilermakers
International of apprenticeship programs and local lodges.
Id. ¶¶ 54, 57, 60.
International cites Frank v. U.S. West, Inc. for the
proposition that no integrated enterprise exists in a
circumstance like this. 3 F.3d 1357 (10th Cir. 1993). The
Tenth Circuit in Frank rejected an integrated
enterprise theory between a parent corporation and its
subsidiary. The court found that the plaintiffs had
"failed to produce the type of evidence routinely used
to show interrelated operations." Id. at 1363.
In particular, the plaintiffs had shown only that members of
the subsidiary reported to officers in the parent company and
that the parent company provided generalized guidance on
labor relations. Id. at 1362-63. While the
parent company owned the subsidiary, the parent company and
subsidiary shared no common officers and only one common
manager. Id. at 1364. Caponio need not present
evidence of an integrated enterprise at the pleadings stage.
It is sufficient for now that she has alleged a more
integrated relationship than that rejected in Frank
among Boilermakers International, Western States, and Local
549 with respect to the operations of the apprenticeship
of Administrative Remedies and Time Bar
has sufficiently alleged that she began the process of
exhausting her administrative remedies for the claims against
Western States and Boilermakers International with her first
EEOC charge signed April 17, 2014, and that the claims
against those defendants are therefore not time barred, even
though Caponio did not formally name the international ...