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Estrada v. Gate Gourmet, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 6, 2017

Adolfo Estrada,
Gate Gourmet, Inc.

          Present: Honorable MICHAEL W. FITZGERALD, U.S. District Judge



         Before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, filed on March 14, 2017. (“Motion to Dismiss, ” Docket No. 13). Plaintiff filed an Opposition on March 27, 2017. (Docket No. 15). Defendant filed a Reply on April 3, 2017. (Docket No. 18).

         In addition, on April 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand. (“Motion to Remand, ” Docket No. 23). Defendant filed an Opposition. (Docket No. 24).

         The Court has read and considered the filings and held a hearing on June 5, 2017. For the reasons stated below the Motion to Remand is DENIED and the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED in its entirety with leave to amend.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Adolfo Estrada was employed by Defendant as a Human Resources Generalist from September 2014 to August 2015, when he was terminated. (First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), Docket No. 11, ¶¶ 9-10). Plaintiff asserts he was never provided training or guidance with regard to Defendant's policies and procedures. (Id. ¶ 11). Plaintiff's supervisor told him in a meeting in December 2014 that he had been hired because he was a man and the supervisor wanted to reduce the “cattiness” of the office. (Id. ¶ 12). That particular supervisor resigned a few weeks later. After that Plaintiff began noticing his new supervisor, a female, was “acting biased towards him compared to his female co-workers.” (Id. ¶ 15). When Plaintiff asked this supervisor with help completing his large amount of work she refused.

         Plaintiff alleges that the supervisor began increasingly assigning him work as a result of his gender, and that he was the only male in the entire human resources department. (Id. ¶ 17). As a result of being the only male he was given more work than his female coworkers.

         After Plaintiff suffered an injury at work in February 2015, and subsequently filed a workers' compensation claim, the discrimination against him increased. In March 2015 his supervisor told him that he needed to look for other positions within the company or else resign within 90 days. (Id. ¶ 20). Plaintiff filed a formal complaint concerning his supervisor's discriminatory conduct. (Id. ¶ 22). He never received a response.

         Plaintiff was placed on a 60-day performance improvement plan (“PIP”) on April 21, 2015. (Id. ¶ 23). A few weeks later Plaintiff's father died and he submitted a request to use his forty hours of accrued vacation time. Upon his return, however, he discovered his supervisor had given him credit for only two days of paid leave, instead of the five he had requested.

         Plaintiff met with his supervisor every two weeks to discuss his PIP, but he refused to sign the PIP because he disagreed with his supervisor's comments regarding his performance. (Id. ¶ 28). In June 2015 Plaintiff was told he was required to work the graveyard shift or else resign. (Id. ¶ 30).

         On July 2, 2015, Plaintiff felt face and arm numbness while at work. He feared he was experiencing a heart attack or stroke and asked a manager if he could go to the hospital immediately. The manager denied the request and told Plaintiff to write a report. Plaintiff then asked Defendant's Finance Manager and Safety Director if he could go to the hospital and his request was granted. He was informed at the hospital that he had suffered a mild stroke. (Id. ¶ 32).

         After his hospital visit Plaintiff learned that he was suspended for job abandonment and he should not return to work. (Id. ¶ 33). He filed another workers' compensation claim. Plaintiff was allowed to return to the office to work the graveyard shift. (Id. ¶ 35). On August 13, 2015, Plaintiff filed another workers' compensation claim. (Id. ¶ 37). On that same day he was terminated by Defendant due to a lack of improvement during his PIP.

         Plaintiff and his wife filed the operative FAC on February 28, 2017, alleging claims of wrongful termination, gender discrimination, disability discrimination, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination, and loss of consortium.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Motion to Remand

         1. Legal Standard

         The threshold requirement for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 is a “finding that the complaint . . . is within the original jurisdiction of the district court.” Ansley v. Ameriquest Mortgage Co., 340 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 2003). In most circumstances, “federal district courts have jurisdiction over suits for more than $75, 000 where the citizenship of each plaintiff is different from that of each defendant.” Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1043 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)). “The strong presumption against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).

         2. Analysis

         Plaintiff's Motion to Remand argues that Defendant Gate Gourmet is actually a citizen of California, and accordingly diversity jurisdiction does not exist here.

         Plaintiff points to a printout from Defendant's website showing offices in California (as well as Georgia, Massachusetts, Canada, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Michigan, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Nevada, Tennessee, New Jersey, Louisiana, Missouri, Washington, and Virginia). (Ex. 3 to Motion to Remand). Plaintiff also notes that Defendant has been named a defendant in at least eight employment suits in California and ...

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