United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND [RE: ECF 8]
LAB SON FREEMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
se Plaintiff, Mazen Arakji, claims that Microsemi
Corporation (“Microsemi”), subsequently acquired
by Defendant, Microchip Technology, Inc.
(“Microchip”), engaged in unlawful discrimination
by declining to hire him and harassed him based on his race,
religion, and disability. Before the Court is Plaintiff's
Motion to Remand Back to the Superior Court of California,
County of Santa Clara for Lack of Jurisdiction. Motion, ECF
8. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court concludes
that this motion is appropriate for disposition without oral
argument. Accordingly, the hearing set on November 14, 2019
is hereby VACATED. The motion is DENIED for the reasons
is a 38-year-old male, who for “[M]uslim religious
purposes, ” wears a long beard. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF
1-1. Plaintiff also has a “very obvious musculoskeletal
disability which limits [his] ability to grip and lift heavy
objects.” Id. Plaintiff's “national
origin is Lebanese, which is an Arab country in the Middle
East” and has “Arabic ancestry and ethnic
characteristics.” Id. Plaintiff's first
name “Mazen” is “known to be an Arabic
name” and his surname “Arakji” is
“known to be a [M]uslim surname.” Id.
Plaintiff has advanced degrees in electrical and computer
engineering, along with various certifications and
professional achievements in those fields. Id.
alleges that he “applied for several Firmware Engineer
positions at Microsemi between January and April of
2017.” Id. ¶ 20. On May 1, 2017,
Plaintiff was telephonically interviewed by a “hiring
manager” at Microsemi and had a “positive
experience.” Id. ¶ 23. On May 10, 2017,
Plaintiff had an on-site interview at Microsemi in Sunnyvale,
California, which despite several hours of delay, was
“another positive experience.” Id.
¶¶ 23-25. Plaintiff “was contacted several
days afterwards and was informed that the interview had been
voided by HR.” Id. ¶ 25. Plaintiff was
promised another interview, which was later cancelled.
Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff applied for “other
positions at Microsemi, ” but received responses that
the positions he applied for were cancelled. Id.
on these facts, Plaintiff alleges that Microchip
“intentionally” denied him an “opportunity
for employment, ” despite his qualifications.
Id. ¶ 28. Plaintiff alleges that
Microsemi/Microchip discriminated and harassed him because
“Defendant is revolted by people of [Plaintiff's]
religion, national origin, ancestry, ethnic characteristics
and disability, and especially those with a combination of
all of the above.” Id. ¶¶ 28-30.
February 28, 2019, Plaintiff, filed suit against Microchip in
the Superior Court of California for the County of Santa
Clara. Plaintiff brought two state law claims based on
violations of California Fair Employment and Housing Act
(“FEHA”): (1) “violation of Cal Gov Code
12940: Denial of employment due to religious creed, national
origin, ancestry, and disability” and (2)
“violation of Cal Gov Code 12940: Harassment in
employment due to religious creed, national origin, ancestry,
and disability.” See Compl. at p. 7. In his
Complaint, without specifying an amount, Plaintiff sought (1)
monetary damages, (2) punitive damages, and (3) declaratory
or injunctive relief. Id. at p. 5.
served Microchip with the Complaint on April 25, 2019. Notice
of Removal at 2; see also Compl. at p. 4. On May 28,
2019, Microchip timely removed the case to United States
District Court for the Northern District of California based
on diversity of citizenship. Notice of Removal at 1;
see 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441, 1332. Plaintiff is
a citizen of California and Microchip is a citizen of
Delaware and Arizona because it is incorporated in Delaware
and its principal place of business is in Chandler, Arizona.
Notice of Removal at 3-4. Microchip acknowledged that the
Complaint “does not allege a damages amount or a
monetary value for the injunctive relief he requests.”
Id. at 4. Nonetheless, Microchip claimed that the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 because
Plaintiffs' FEHA allegations, if proven, would allow him
to seek unlimited compensatory and punitive damages,
attorneys' fees, costs, injunctive relief, and emotional
distress damages. Id. at 5. The average yearly
salary of a firmware engineer at Microchip's Bay Area
facilities (where Plaintiff alleges he applied) is $85, 000.
Id. The compensatory damages alone-from early 2017,
when Plaintiff allegedly was wrongfully denied the position
he applied for, to date-for lost wages would exceed $170,
000, far greater than the $75, 000 jurisdictional minimum.
concluded that although Plaintiff's Complaint
“fail[ed] to list all the remedies available under
FEHA, and fail[ed] to specify a damages amount or a monetary
value for his requested injunctive relief, ” based on
the allegations in the Complaint and the average salary for
the position Plaintiff was seeking, the amount in controversy
plausibly exceeds $75, 000. Id. at 6.
courts have limited subject matter jurisdiction, and may only
hear cases falling within their jurisdiction. Generally, a
defendant may remove a civil action filed in state court if
the action could have been filed originally in federal court.
28 U.S.C. § 1441. The removal statutes are construed
restrictively so as to limit removal jurisdiction. See
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100,
108-09 (1941). The Ninth Circuit recognizes a “strong
presumption against removal.” Gaus v. Miles,
Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Any doubts as to removability
should be resolved in favor of remand. See Matheson v.
Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th
Cir. 2003). The defendant bears the burden of showing that
removal is proper. See Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co.,
372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004).
any time before final judgment it appears that a district
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a case that has
been removed to federal court, the case must be remanded. 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c). Federal courts have diversity
jurisdiction only where there is complete diversity of
citizenship-no plaintiff is a citizen of the same state as
any defendant-and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1); see Matao Yokeno v. Sawako
Sekiguchi, 754 F.3d 649, 652 (9th Cir. 2014). Where a
defendant removes an action to federal court on the basis of
diversity, the burden on a plaintiff seeking remand under
§ 1447(c) depends on whether or not the amount in
controversy is clear from the face of the complaint. See
Guglielmino v. McKee Foods Corp., 506 F.3d 696, 699 (9th
Cir. 2007). When the plaintiff's complaint does not state
the amount in controversy, the defendant's notice of
removal may do so. Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC
v. Owens, 574 U.S. 81, 84, 135 S.Ct. 547, 551, 190
L.Ed.2d 495 (2014).