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Morales v. Sprint Connect, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 30, 2018

Theresa Morales
Sprint Connect, LLC, et al.




         On May 1, 2018, Plaintiff Theresa Morales ("Plaintiff") filed a Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint and Remand Action to State Court. On May 14, 2018, Defendants Sprint Connect, LLC (“Sprint Connect”) and Sprint Corporation (collectively, "Defendants") filed their Opposition. On May 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Reply. Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the Court finds this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument, and the hearing calendared for June 4, 2018 is hereby vacated and the matter taken off calendar. After considering the moving, opposing, and reply papers, and the arguments therein, the Court rules as follows:


         A. Factual Allegations

         Sprint/United Management Company ("SUMC"), a Kansas corporation, provides management services. Sprint Connect, a Delaware corporation, is a joint venture between SUMC and Dixons Carphone ("Dixons") that operates Sprint-branded stores across the United States.

         On April 28, 2016, Sprint Connect hired Plaintiff to work in Los Angeles, California as its People, Culture & Legal Business Partner for the West Region. In this role, Plaintiff was responsible for performing human resources functions.

         In December of 2016, Plaintiff allegedly discovered that Sprint Connect's policies were not in compliance with various California laws. According to Plaintiff, Sprint Connect did not comply with California's sick pay laws; failed to provide mandatory sexual harassment training; and failed to comply with California's Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") requirements regarding sexual harassment policies. Plaintiff reported her findings to her direct supervisor, Caroline Edwards, who advised Plaintiff to report her concerns to Sally Whitlock, a different supervisor. Shortly thereafter, during a meeting in Kansas City, Plaintiff, her colleague Richard Teixeira, and another employee expressed concerns about Sprint Connect's lack of compliance with various employment laws. According to Plaintiff, in response, Edwards allegedly announced that Plaintiff's teams would no longer report to Plaintiff. While at the meeting, the Chief Operating Officer of Sprint Connect received an anonymous email regarding two employees who were allegedly having an affair. Edwards accused Plaintiff of writing the anonymous email and told her to leave the meeting and return to Los Angeles.

         From February through April of 2017, Plaintiff allegedly witnessed Anthony Catterson, Sprint Connect's Vice President of Operations, and Ali Latif, District Manager of Sprint Connect for Northern California, engaging in "inappropriate behavior." In addition, Plaintiff discovered that Latif was engaged in "fraudulent activity", including falsifying documents to fraudulently obtain electronic merchandise. Latif also allegedly failed to comply with sexual harassment training requirements. Plaintiff investigated Latif's actions and reported her findings to Catterson, Whitlock, and Edwards. Shortly thereafter, Catterson instructed Plaintiff to terminate her investigation, "stay in her own lane", and "stick to human resources."

         In March and April of 2017, several Sprint Connect employees reported that Latif had discriminated and retaliated against them on the basis of race. In May of 2017, Plaintiff investigated those allegations and, based thereon, recommended Latif's termination. As a result, Plaintiff claims that Catterson and Latif allegedly retaliated against Plaintiff and also harassed her. Plaintiff complained about Catterson's and Latif's inappropriate conduct to Edwards and Sherri Vega, a Senior Human Resources Manager at Sprint Connect.

         On June 9, 2017, SUMC and Dixons announced that ownership of Sprint Connect stores would transfer from their joint venture solely to SUMC and that all senior management and field positions would remain intact. Plaintiff was assured that she would receive a bonus for assisting with the transition.

         On August 30, 2017, Plaintiff was notified by Jake Grissin, a Sprint Connect training manager, that Sprint Connect had learned that Plaintiff had sued a previous employer and, therefore, Plaintiff would not be rehired following the transition of the company's ownership.

         B. Procedural History

         On February 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging claims against Sprint Connect and Sprint Corporation for: (1) retaliation in violation of FEHA; (2) failure to prevent retaliation in violation of FEHA; (3) retaliation in violation of California Labor Code Section 1102.5; and (4) failure to reimburse business-related expenses in violation of California Labor Code Section 2802.

         On April 4, 2018, Sprint Connect filed an Answer in Los Angeles Superior Court. On April 5, 2018, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal, alleging that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 1332(a). According to Defendants, their removal ...

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