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Franklin v. Adams & Associates, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 6, 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 Gloria Franklin (“Plaintiff) opposes the motion. (ECF No. 21.) Defendant has filed a reply. (ECF No. 22.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (ECF No. 19).

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Plaintiff alleges she was hired in 2003 as a Residential Advisor for Sacramento Job Corps Center (“SJCC”), a career development facility that offers assistance to at-risk young adults. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶¶ 9, 10.) Plaintiff states she generally worked the graveyard shift and describes her duties as counseling students and maintaining clean and safe living conditions. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 11.) Plaintiff alleges during her tenure she had no disciplinary history and worked “with support and praise from her supervisors for many years.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 12.) Plaintiff states she was an African American woman, over 40 years old, with a cancer related medical condition, and “an active member of her labor union, the California Federation of Teachers Union (“CFT”).” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶¶ 13, 31, 43-44, & 51.) Plaintiff alleges in December 2013, she underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer and was hospitalized for two weeks after the surgery. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 14.) Plaintiff alleges “she was forced to miss work for a period of time under disability leave provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 14.)

         In February 2014, Defendant became the new managing corporation of SJCC. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 15.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant announced “it would evaluate and interview [S]CC] employees to continue in their positions.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 16.) Plaintiff alleges she contacted Defendant while on medical leave and informed Defendant “she would be prepared to continue her career with [S]CC] in the next few weeks.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 17.) Plaintiff alleges she filled out and submitted a job application to continue in the same position. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 18.)

         Plaintiff alleges she contacted Defendant after her release from the hospital to follow up on her application and request an interview, which she requested be conducted over the telephone because she had just been discharged from the hospital. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 20-21.) Plaintiff alleges that during the interview Defendant asked her several questions regarding the status of her medical condition and when she would be able to return to work. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 22.) Plaintiff alleges she informed Defendant she would be prepared to resume working about March 16, 2014. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 23.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant informed her that the “return date would not present a problem and thanked Plaintiff for the interview.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 24.)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant sent her a letter “approximately 10 days before she was to return to work informing her that she would not be offered an opportunity to continue in her position.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 25.) Plaintiff alleges the “letter further stated that Plaintiff's application would be kept on file and that she would be contacted regarding any additional vacancies.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 26.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant “never contacted [her] regarding another vacancy at [S]CC], and she was informed by other employees that Defendant [] had filled vacancies without any attempt to contact her.” (ECF No. 19-1 ¶ 27.)

         On November 18, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Superior Court of Sacramento County. (ECF No. 19-1 at 4.) Defendant answered the complaint and then removed the case to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1 at 1; ECF No. 1-1 at 28-37.) Defendant moves for judgment on the pleadings for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 19 at 7.)

         Plaintiff alleges claims for violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and common law, including: (i) age, race and disability discrimination in violation of California Government Code § 12940; (ii) failure to hire in violation of public policy; (iii) retaliation in violation of California Government Code § 12940(h); (iv) failure to prevent discrimination in violation of California Government Code §12940(k); (v) failure to accommodate in violation of California Government Code § 12940(m); (vi) failure to engage in the interactive process in violation of California Government Code § 12940(n); (vii) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (viii) failure to provide copies of personnel files in violation of California Labor Code § 1198.5. (ECF No. 19-1 at 4, 7-18.)

         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 (CD. Cal. 2004); Carmen v. S.F. Unified Sch. Dist, 982 F.Supp. 1396, 1401 (N.D. Cal. 1997).

         III. Analysis

         Defendant argues Plaintiff fails to plead sufficient facts to support any of her claims. (ECF No. 19 at 7.) The Court will discuss each claim in turn.

         A. Discrimination in Violation of California Government Code § 12940(a)

         Plaintiff alleges Defendant discriminated against her because of her age, race, and disability. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶¶ 33, 44, 53.) Defendant argues Plaintiff makes only conclusory, boilerplate allegations, and does not allege facts sufficient to show grounds for relief or to demonstrate that any of the protected characteristics Plaintiff claims were factors in Defendants decisions. (ECF No. 19 at 10-11.) Plaintiff states generally that all of her claims are sufficiently stated and her factual allegations are sufficient. (ECF No. 21 at 6.)

         FEHA prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because of age, race, color, medical condition, disability, or religious creed. Cal. Gov't Code § 12940(a). To state a claim for discrimination under FEHA, a plaintiff must show: (i) she was a member of a protected class; (ii) she was qualified for the position she sought; (iii) she suffered an adverse employment action; and (iv) the employer acted with a discriminatory motive. Ayala v. Frito Lay, Inc., 2017 WL 2833401, at *7 (E.D. Cal. June 30, 2017) (citing Lawler v. Montblanc N. Am., LLC, 704 F.3d 1235, 1242 (9th Cir. 2013); Guz v. Bechtel Nat'l., Inc., 24 Cal.4th 317, 355 (2000)). A plaintiff can demonstrate discriminatory motive by showing “other similarly situated employees outside of the protected class were treated more favorably, or other circumstances surrounding the adverse employment action give rise to an inference of discrimination.” Achal v. Gate Gourmet, Inc., 114 F.Supp.3d 781, 800 (N.D. Cal. 2015).

         Plaintiff alleges she was a member of several protected classes because she was over 40 years old, African American, and had a cancer related medical condition. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶¶ 31, 40, 51.) Plaintiff alleges Defendant discriminated against her because of her age, race, and disability, by failing to hire her, retaliating against her, and failing to prevent discrimination against her, all because of her protected characteristics. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶¶ 33, 44, 53.)

         i. Age and Race Discrimination

         Plaintiff alleges she is over 40 years old and an African American, and Defendant discriminated against her because of her age and race. (ECF No. 19-1 ¶¶ 31-33, 51-53.) Plaintiffs allegations Defendant acted because of her age or race, are recitations of an element. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. In her general factual allegations, Plaintiff alleges after she was terminated, Defendant filled vacancies without attempting to contact her although her termination letter stated her application would be kept on file for future vacancies. (ECF No. 19-1 ΒΆΒΆ 26-27.) Plaintiff does not allege these ...

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