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Sweeney v. Chang

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 12, 2017


          Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER


         Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) - DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (Dkt. 26, filed May 12, 2017)

         The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; CD. Cal. L.R. 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of June 19, 2017 is vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.


         On September 27, 2016, plaintiff Lenee Sweeney filed this action against defendants The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"); Jenny R. Yang, then Chair of the EEOC; and Does 1-10, inclusive. Dkt. 1. On November 10, 2016, plaintiff filed her first amended complaint. Dkt. 12 ("FAC"). Plaintiff alleges eight claims: (1) age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act ("ADEA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 626 et seq.; (2) race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq.; (3) retaliation in violation of Title VII; (4) fraud; (5) misrepresentation; (6) interference with prospective business advantage; (7) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (8) defamation. Id.

         On May 12, 2017, defendant Victoria A. Lipnic[1], Acting Chair of the EEOC, filed a notice of motion and motion to dismiss plaintiffs complaint. Dkt. 26 ("MTD"). Plaintiff filed her opposition on May 26, 2017, dkt. 28 ("Opp'n"), and defendant filed a reply on June 5, 2017, dkt. 31.

         Having carefully considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.


         Plaintiff alleges the following facts. Beginning in August 2008, plaintiff, an African American woman born in 1958, was employed by the EEOC as an Information Specialist/Records Disclosure Coordinator for the Los Angeles District Office. FAC ¶¶ 14, 16. Plaintiff has worked in the federal government for approximately thirty years. Id. ¶ 15.

         At an unspecified time, plaintiffs manager, Thomas Profit, allegedly discriminated against her on the basis of her age, race, and sex.[2] Id. ¶ 17.

         On or about November 18, 2015, Profit put plaintiff on a "Performance Improvement Plan" ("PIP"). Id. ¶¶ 17, 71. Plaintiff alleges that a PIP, which indicates "performances issues, " remains on an employee's file where it can be used as a tool to justify terminating an employee. Id. A PIP can negatively impact an employee's job opportunities by preventing transfer and affecting pay or potential bonuses. Id. ¶ 17. Plaintiff contends that the PIP inaccurately and unfairly criticized her work. Id. On the same day, plaintiff contacted the EEOC to file a complaint for harassment and discrimination. Id. ¶ 20.

         Plaintiff requested a transfer away from Profit, but her request was denied. Id. ¶ 18. Other transfer requests were granted to younger, non-African American women. Id. Profit also revoked plaintiff's ability to telecommute two days per week, while permitting other employees who were not African American to continue to do so. Id ¶¶ 18, 54. Another manager, Rosa Viramontes, made fun of plaintiff and told her that "assistants did not want to listen to her because she was black." [3]Id. ¶ 19.

         "After plaintiff complained, " individuals at the EEOC falsely told her that she had reached her thirtieth year of employment with the federal government, and that she was entitled to pension payments and lifetime medical benefits.[4] Id. ¶ 58.

         Profit told plaintiff that he had calculated her time and that she would be eligible for retirement starting in December 2015. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff relied on Profit's representations that she could retire with full benefits. Id. ¶ 22. Plaintiff would not have requested retirement if she "had been told the truth." Id. Plaintiff alleges that Profit lied to her about her eligibility for retirement benefits because he wanted to "get rid of her due to her age, sex, and race. Id. ¶ 23.

         Unnamed individuals at the EEOC allegedly confirmed with plaintiff that she was eligible to receive lifetime retirement benefits. Id. ¶ 24. These individuals knew that this was false and had no intention to pay plaintiff her pension or medical benefits. Id. Plaintiff contends that individuals at the EEOC wanted her to suffer as retaliation for her complaints. Id.

         In December 2015, plaintiff followed the directions of Pamela Akers, an EEOC Benefits Specialist, and unnamed others and submitted her request to retire upon January 2016. Id. ¶21.

         Plaintiff does not state how she discovered that she was not, in fact, entitled to retire with lifetime benefits. Nonetheless, on or about January 29, 2016, plaintiff filed an amended complaint with the EEOC based on "constructive discharge" due to the alleged misrepresentation of her eligibility for retirement benefits. Id. ¶27. On February 10, 2016, plaintiff received a Notice of Acceptance and Amendment.[5] Id. ¶ 11.

         On or about February 18, 2016, plaintiff received a letter from Ms. Williams acknowledging that Akers had previously told plaintiff that her retirement package was complete and submitted to the Office of Personnel Management ("OPM").[6] Id. ¶ 21. The letter explained that the EEOC did not process plaintiff's retirement package, despite what Akers had told plaintiff, and that it had instead delayed processing by keeping it in Akers' office instead of forwarding the package to OPM. Id. ¶ 25.

         Plaintiff applied to go back to work at multiple federal agencies to try to "make up" the additional months she needed to reach the thirty-year anniversary for retirement benefits. Id. ¶¶ 26, 28. Defendants defamed plaintiff by telling others that she was "unstable" and should not be hired. Id. ¶ 26.

         The EEOC advertised a job that plaintiff was qualified for, but refused to hire her when she applied. Id. ¶ 31. Plaintiff continued to "beg" the EEOC to correct the "mistake" as to her retirement benefits and provide her with medical insurance. Id ¶¶ 31-32.

         Plaintiff suffered severe emotional distress due to lack of income, pension payment, and insurance. Id. ΒΆ 30. Plaintiff became deeply depressed, but she could not obtain medical treatment for ...

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