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Rhodes v. Adams & Associates, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 5, 2017




         This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendant Adams & Associates, Inc.'s (“Defendant”) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. (ECF No. 19.) Plaintiff Dennis Rhodes (“Plaintiff”) opposes the motion. (ECF No. 20.) Defendant has filed a reply. (ECF No. 21.) For the reasons detailed below, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings (ECF No. 19).

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff is an African American male who is over 40 years of age. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶¶ 25, 34.) Plaintiff states he has a B.A. in African American studies and has served as a community organizer for a non-profit in the past. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 10.) In 2011, Plaintiff was hired as a Residential Advisor for Sacramento Job Corps Center (“SJCC”), a career development facility for at-risk young adults. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶¶ 9-10.) Plaintiff describes his duties as “counseling students” and “maintaining clean and safe living conditions in the dorms.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 11.) Plaintiff alleges he was an excellent employee with no disciplinary actions and was an active member of the California Federation of Teachers Union (“CFTU”). (ECF No. 19-1 ¶¶ 12-13.)

         In February 2014, Defendant became the new managing corporation of SJCC. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 14.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant announced it planned to reorganize several job duties for some positions, reduce the number of Resident Advisor positions, and create a new position known as a Resident Coordinator. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 15.) Plaintiff alleges he submitted an application to Defendant and that Defendant promised to rehire Plaintiff to his Resident Advisor position if he did not have any disciplinary actions in his file. (ECF No. ¶¶ 16-17.)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant invited him for a first round interview, during which Plaintiff expressed his interest in either his prior position as a Resident Advisor or a new position as a “CTT Instructor.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 18.) Defendant interviewed Plaintiff again during a second round interview. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 18.) Plaintiff alleges he received a rejection letter from Defendant in March 2014, stating he would not be hired for the CTT Instructor position, but with no mention of his prior Resident Advisor position. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 19.) Plaintiff alleges “employees with equal or lesser experience were being hired for similar Advisor positions in violation of Job Corps' collective bargaining agreement with CFTU.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 20.)

         On December 14, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Superior Court of Sacramento County. (ECF No. 19-1 at 4.) Defendant answered in the Superior Court denying each claim and asserting affirmative defenses. (ECF No. 1-1 at 19-24.) On March 9, 2016, Defendant removed this action to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1.) Defendant then moved for judgment on the pleadings contending that Plaintiff fails to state any claim on which relief can be granted. (ECF No. 19 at 7.)

         Plaintiff alleges violations of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and common law: (i) age, race, and national origin discrimination in violation of California Government Code § 12940(a); (ii) retaliation in violation of California Government Code § 12940(h); (iii) failure to hire in violation of public policy in violation of California Government Code § 12940(k); (iv) failure to prevent discrimination in violation of California Government Code § 12940(k); and (v) intentional infliction of emotional distress. (ECF No. 19-1 at 7-13.)

         II. Standard of Law

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides “[a]fter the pleadings are closed - but early enough not to delay trial - a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The issue presented by a Rule 12(c) motion is substantially the same as that posed in a 12(b) motion - whether the factual allegations of the complaint, together with all reasonable inferences, state a plausible claim for relief. See Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054-1055 (9th Cir. 2011). “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) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

         In analyzing a 12(c) motion, the district court “must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009). Nevertheless, a court “need not assume the truth of legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations.” United States ex rel. Chunie v. Ringrose, 788 F.2d 638, 643 n.2 (9th Cir. 1986). “A judgment on the pleadings is properly granted when, taking all the allegations in the non-moving party's pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Ventress v. Japan Airlines, 603 F.3d 676, 681 (9th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted).

         A judgment on the pleadings is not appropriate if the Court “goes beyond the pleadings to resolve an issue; such a proceeding must properly be treated as a motion for summary judgment.” Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). A district court may, however, “consider certain materials - documents attached to the complaint, documents incorporated by reference in the complaint, or matters of judicial notice - without converting the motion to dismiss [or motion for judgment on the pleadings] into a motion for summary judgment.” United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003).

         “While Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure does not expressly provide for partial judgment on the pleadings, neither does it bar such a procedure; it is common to apply Rule 12(c) to individual causes of action.” Strigliabotti v. Franklin Res., Inc., 398 F.Supp.2d 1094, 1097 (N.D. Cal. 2005) (citing Moran v. Peralta Cmty. Coll. Dist., 825 F.Supp. 891, 893 (N.D. Cal. 1993)). Courts have the discretion in appropriate cases to grant a Rule 12(c) motion with leave to amend, or to simply grant dismissal of the action instead of entry of judgment. See Lonberg v. City of Riverside, 300 F.Supp.2d 942, 945 (C.D. Cal. 2004); Carmen v. S.F. Unified Sch. Dist., 982 F.Supp. 1396, 1401 (N.D. Cal. 1997).

         III. ...

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