Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rafieh v. Safeway Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 25, 2017

AREF RAFIEH, Plaintiff,
v.
SAFEWAY INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NO. 5

          HOWARD R. LLOYD United States Magistrate Judge

         Pending before the court is Defendant Safeway, Inc.'s (“Safeway”) motion to dismiss three of the eleven claims brought by Plaintiff Aref Rabieh (“Rabieh”). Dkt. No. 5. Both parties have consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction. Dkt. Nos. 8, 9. For the reasons described below, the court grants the motion to dismiss.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are alleged in Rabieh's complaint. Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A. Rabieh started working as a food clerk at Safeway, a supermarket chain, in October 2010. Id., ¶ 1. He received positive performance reviews. Id., ¶ 10.

         Rabieh takes prescription medication for back pain. Id., ¶ 11. In 2016, he took several sick days to deal with this pain. Id., ¶ 12. His manager, however, called him and threatened to fire him if he took additional sick days, putting Rabieh in fear of losing his job. Id. As a result, Rabieh came into work “despite extreme pain” on December 19, 2016, having taken prescription medication earlier that day. Id., ¶ 13. Once Rabieh arrived at work, his manager accused him of being drowsy and “under the influence, ” ordered him to take a drug test, and suspended his employment. Id., ¶ 13.

         Rabieh tested positive for his prescription pain medication-and for no other drugs. Id., ¶ 14. Safeway did not work with Rabieh to find a reasonable accommodation for his pain. Id., ¶ 15. Instead, despite Rabieh showing his supervisors his prescription paperwork and doctor's notes confirming that he had been prescribed the medicine for which he tested positive, Rabieh was terminated. Id., ¶¶ 14, 15. The official reason given for Rabieh's termination was his violation of unspecified “company policies and rules.” Id., ¶ 15. As a result of his termination and the events leading up to it (including his manager's threats and the imposed drug test), Rabieh experienced “mental distress, anguish, indignation, humiliation, depression, anxiety, fear, loss of sleep, loss of appetite, and body-aches.” Id., ¶ 70.

         Rabieh filed suit against Safeway in Santa Clara Superior Court less than one month after his termination. Dkt. No. 1, ¶ 1. His complaint alleges eleven claims, including: unlawful retaliation in violation of public policy, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, discrimination and harassment, failure to prevent and investigate discrimination and harassment, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, violation of California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) / Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) rights, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and invasion of privacy. Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A. Safeway removed the action to federal court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction and filed the present motion to dismiss. Dkt. Nos. 1, 5.

         Safeway moves to dismiss only Rabieh's claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligence. Dkt. No. 5. Safeway asserts that each claim is barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of California's Workers' Compensation Act (“WCA”)-and thus that leave to amend is not warranted. Id. Safeway also argues that dismissal of each claim is appropriate on the grounds that Rabieh fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Id. For the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, Safeway asserts that Rabieh does not allege extreme and outrageous conduct. Id. For the negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligence claims, Safeway argues that Rabieh alleges only intentional actions by Safeway and that he fails to sufficiently plead the essential elements of a negligence claim. Id.

         In response, Rabieh argues that his claims are not barred by the WCA's exclusivity provisions because Safeway's discriminatory conduct both falls outside the normal course of employment and implicates substantial public policy considerations. Dkt. No. 7. Rabieh further asserts that Safeway's conduct in threatening to fire him for taking sick leave, forcing him to take a drug test, and firing him for taking prescription drugs is “outrageous”-or at least that the question of whether this conduct is outrageous should go to a jury. Id. As for his negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims, Rabieh argues that Safeway negligently handled his termination by breaching the standard of care of a reasonable employer who should not terminate employees for attempting to manage their pain. Id. If the court finds the negligence-related claims insufficiently plead, Rabieh requests leave to amend to allege additional facts as to the reasons Safeway provided Rabieh for his termination (namely, that the levels of the pain medication in Rabieh's system were above those typically found in the bodies of those taking that medication; Rabieh argues that his supervisors were neither doctors nor his doctor, and that their decision to terminate him on the basis of their own medical opinions was negligent). Id.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege sufficient facts to state a claim for relief that is facially plausible. 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). Complaints that merely recite the elements of a cause of action are insufficient. Id. In considering a motion to dismiss, a court accepts all of the plaintiff's factual allegations as true and construes the pleadings in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). But “the court is not required to accept legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations if those conclusions cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts alleged.” Clegg v. Cult Awareness Network, 18 F.3d 752, 754-55 (9th Cir. 1994).

         DISCUSSION

         Safeway argues that each of the three claims it moves to dismiss are barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the WCA.

         The WCA is the exclusive remedy for employees suffering physical or mental injuries arising out of the course of employment. Shoemaker v. Myers, 52 Cal.3d 1, 7, 15. The WCA's exclusive remedy provisions institute a “compensation bargain” between employers and employees governing claims for such injuries. Id., at 16. In this bargain, employees receive faster and more certain awards of compensation in exchange for giving up the more varied and substantial damages available at common law. Id. There are two relevant exceptions to WCA exclusivity. Claims may fall beyond the WCA's exclusivity when either (1) the defendant's conduct causing the injury is not “a normal part of the employment relationship” and/or has a “questionable” ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.