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Hoeft v. Time Warner Cable Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 2, 2018

Lori Hoeft
v.
Time Warner Cable, Inc., et al.

          Present: The Honorable JOHN A. KRONSTADT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) ORDER RE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND CASE TO LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT (DKT. 9) JS-6: Remand

         I. Introduction

         Lori Hoeft (“Plaintiff”) filed this action in the Los Angeles Superior Court on March 1, 2016. See Ex. A to Notice of Removal, Complaint, Dkt. 1-1. The First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), which is the operative pleading, advances 12 causes of action against Time Warner Cable Inc., Time-Warner Cable Media Inc. (collectively, “Time-Warner”), and Mike Shippey (“Shippey”) (collectively, “Defendants”). Ex. C to Notice of Removal, FAC, Dkt. 1-3. The claims allege violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), Cal. Gov't Code §§ 12940 et seq., other California statutes and common law. The claims arise from Plaintiffs' former employment at Time-Warner.

         On January 12, 2018, almost two years after the action was filed, Defendants removed it pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. In support of removal and the associated federal jurisdiction, Defendants contend that the FAC advances claims arising under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq. Defendant argue that ERISA provides the exclusive remedy for claims under employee benefit plans and preempts state law claims seeking relief related to such plans. See Notice of Removal, Dkt. 1 ¶¶ 6-8.

         Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand (“Motion”) on February 12, 2018. Dkt. 9. The Motion included a request for an award of attorney's fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1447(c). Defendant filed an opposition to the Motion. Dkt. 16 (“Opposition”). Plaintiff replied. Dkt. 18 (“Reply”). A hearing on the Motion was held on April 30, 2018, and the Motion was taken under submission. Dkt. 20.

         For the reasons stated in this Order, the Motion is GRANTED. This action is remanded to the Los Angeles Superior Court at its Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Plaintiff's request for an award of attorney's fees is DENIED.

         II. Factual Background

         Plaintiff alleges that in 2013 she started employment with Time-Warner as an Account Executive. FAC, Dkt. 1-3 ¶ 19. The FAC alleges that Shippey was employed by Time-Warner in a managerial role, and that he was Plaintiffs supervisor during her employment. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that, during the course of her employment, she had certain disabilities, including a “cervical/spinal injury” and an “anxiety/panic disorder.” Id. ¶ 20. She alleges that these conditions did not prevent her from performing her job duties. However, she alleges that she did ask for reasonable accommodations from Shippey and those in the Time-Warner Human Resources Department. Id. The FAC alleges that, as a result of these requests, Defendants “perceived Plaintiff as disabled, ” and subjected her to adverse consequences including, but not limited to:

. Imposing a policy that Time-Warner employees would only communicate with Plaintiff by e-mail, and not telephone;
. Imposing a policy that encouraged certain employees to refuse to assist Plaintiff with certain job responsibilities;
. Denying Plaintiff certain training opportunities that were made available to other, similarly-situated Time-Warner employees;
. Arbitrarily taking sales accounts from Plaintiff and giving them to male co-workers;
. Failing to pay Plaintiff commissions she earned through completed sales;
. Making or allowing others to make offensive and sexually harassing comments to Plaintiff;
. Failing to engage in a good-faith interactive process in order to accommodate Plaintiffs disabilities; and
. Failing reasonably to accommodate Plaintiff for her disabilities.

Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that these actions were motivated by her disabilities, and constituted retaliation for her requests for accommodations and taking medical leave. Id. ¶ 23. The FAC also alleges that, as a result of Defendants' alleged misconduct, her medical issues were aggravated and she suffered from severe emotional distress. Id. ¶ 22. This allegedly caused Plaintiff to take medical leave from work starting in September 2014. Id. Plaintiff alleges that Time-Warner wrongfully terminated her employment on March 2, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 22, 99-106.

         Based on these allegations, the FAC advances the following causes of action:

(1) Disability Discrimination in Violation of FEHA, Cal. Gov. Code § 12940(a) -Against Time-Warner
(2) Failure to Accommodate in Violation of FEHA, Cal. Gov. Code § 12940(m) -Against Time-Warner
(3) Failure to Engage in the Interactive Process in Violation of FEHA, Cal. Gov. Code §§ 2940(n) and 12926.1(e) - Against Time-Warner
(4) Failure to Prevent Discrimination and Harassment in Violation of FEHA - Against Time-Warner
(5) Retaliation in Violation of Cal. Lab. Code 1102.5 - Against Time-Warner
(6) Retaliation in Violation of FEHA, Cal. Gov. Code ยง 12940(h) - ...

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