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Loeb v. ZipRecruiter, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 5, 2019

Paul E. Loeb
ZipRecruiter, Inc., et al.




         JS-6: Remanded

         I. Introduction

         On April 3, 2019, Paul E. Loeb (“Plaintiff”), on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, brought this putative class action in the Los Angeles Superior Court against ZipRecruiter, Inc. (“Defendant”), and Does 1 through 50. Dkt. 1-2. The Complaint advances five causes of action: (i) failure to provide standalone disclosures in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, (“FCRA”) 15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(2)(A); (ii) failure to make disclosures in violation of the FCRA, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681d(a)(1) and 1681g(c); (iii) failure to pay vacation wages in violation of Cal. Lab. Code § 227.3; (iv) failure to provide accurate written wage statements in violation of Cal. Lab. Code § 226(a); and (v) failure to timely pay all final wages in violation of Cal. Lab. Code §§ 201-203. Id.

         On May 16, 2019, Defendant removed the action on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Id. at 2. On July 10, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand (the “Motion”). Dkt. 15. Defendant opposed the Motion on July 24, 2019. Dkt. 18. Plaintiff filed a reply on July 31, 2019. Dkt. 24. A hearing on the Motion was held on August 26, 2019, and the matter was taken under submission. Dkt. 25.

         For the reasons stated in this Order, the Motion is GRANTED, and the action is remanded to the Los Angeles Superior Court.

         II. Factual Background

         Plaintiff is a citizen of California. Dkt. 1-2 ¶ 7. Plaintiff worked for Defendant from June 12, 2017, through January 2019. Id. ¶ 21. Defendant is a Delaware corporation doing business in California. Id. ¶ 8.

         It is alleged that when Plaintiff applied for a job with Defendant, Defendant arranged for a background investigation of him. Id. ¶ 22. Defendant allegedly failed to provide proper disclosure and authorization forms to Plaintiff regarding his rights with respect to the information gathered pursuant to this investigation, because the forms that were provided to him “contained extraneous and superfluous language and did not comport with the FCRA standalone disclosure and authorization requirement.” Id. ¶ 23. It is further alleged that Defendant “maintained policies that provide for the unlawful forfeiture of vested vacation pay, ” and that Defendant's wage statements were inaccurate insofar as they failed to reflect all vacation hours earned and accrued. Id. ¶¶ 24-32.

         The Complaint seeks monetary relief based on the amount of unpaid wages, actual damages, liquidated damages, restitution, declaratory relief, pre-judgment interest, statutory penalties, costs and attorney's fees. Id. at 18-19.

         III. Analysis

         A. General Legal Standards

         1. Removal and Remand

         A motion to remand is the procedural means to challenge the removal of an action. Moore-Thomas v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009). In general, a state civil action may be removed only if, at the time of removal, it is one over which there is federal jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Because federal courts are ones of limited jurisdiction, the removal statute is strictly construed, and any doubt as to the appropriateness of removal is resolved in favor of remand. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). Thus, the removing party has the burden of establishing that removal is proper, including that there is federal jurisdiction over one or more of the claims. Id. “If a case is improperly removed, the federal court must remand the action because it has no subject matter jurisdiction to decide the case.” ARCO Envtl. Remediation, L.L.C. v. Dep't of Health & Envtl. Quality of Mont., 213 F.3d 1108, 1113 (9th Cir. 2000) (internal citations omitted).

         2. Federal Question Jurisdiction

         28 U.S.C. § 1331 provides original jurisdiction in district courts over civil actions “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Pursuant to the well-pleaded complaint rule, “a suit arises under federal law for 28 U.S.C. § 1331 purposes only when the plaintiff's statement of his own cause of action shows that it is based upon federal law.” Hawaii ex rel Louie v. HSBC Bank Nev., N.A., 761 F.3d 1027, 1034 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). “It does not suffice to show that a federal question lurks somewhere inside the parties' controversy, or that a defense or counterclaim would arise under federal law.” Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 70 (2009). Similarly, “removal cannot be based on a . . . cross-claim . . . raising a federal question; to hold otherwise would allow defendants to determine the removability of a case.” Le v. Young Champions Recreation Programs, No. SA CV 08-414AHSRNBX, 2008 WL 1970186, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 30, 2008). Thus, the operative analysis calls for an examination of the complaint alone. See Coleman v. Estes Express Lines, Inc., 631 F.3d 1010, 1016 (9th Cir. 2011).

         Courts must determine federal jurisdiction based solely on what “necessarily appears in the plaintiff's statement of his own claim in the bill or declaration, unaided by anything in anticipation of avoidance of defenses which it is thought the defendant may interpose.” California ex rel. Sacramento Metro. AirQuality Mgmt. Dist. v. United States, 215 F.3d 1005, 1014 (9th Cir. 2000). A defendant's answer or counterclaim, for example, cannot create federal question jurisdiction where that question is not ‚Äúpresented on the ...

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