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Wood v. Marathon Refining Logistics Service LLC

United States District Court, N.D. California

December 5, 2019

Janice Wood, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Marathon Refining Logistics Service LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS WITH LEAVE TO AMEND RE: DKT. NO. 16

          YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Janice Wood, Anthony Alfaro, and Aaron Dietrich bring this putative class action against defendant Marathon Refining Logistics Services LLC, alleging that defendant's standby shift practices violate the reporting time pay provisions of Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Order 1-2001. Now before the Court is defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the grounds that (i) plaintiffs' claims are preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. section 185(a); and (ii) plaintiffs fail to state a claim for reporting time pay.

         Having carefully considered the papers submitted and the pleadings in this action, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby Grants defendant's motion With Leave To Amend.

         I. Background

         As alleged in the complaint, plaintiffs bring this action for violations of Wage Order 1-2001, the California Labor Code, and California Unfair Competition Law, on behalf of themselves and other operators and maintenance workers employed at defendant's refinery in Martinez, California. Specifically, plaintiffs challenge defendant's alleged practice of scheduling employees for mandatory standby shifts without paying required reporting time pay. Plaintiffs allege that during standby shifts, and in the case of operators, before, after, and during standby shifts, employees must be available to receive a call from defendant. If the employees cannot be reached, they allegedly are considered absent without leave and subject to disciplinary action. If they receive a call, they allegedly must report for duty at the refinery within a designated or reasonable amount of time. If they do not receive a call during a standby shift, the employees allegedly are not compensated. Plaintiffs allege that these standby shifts impose a significant cost on employees, precluding them from committing to jobs, classes, caring for family members, social plans, out-of-town travel, and travel to areas without cell reception, while working standby shifts.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a district court must dismiss a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This “facial plausibility” standard requires the plaintiff to allege facts that add up to “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). In deciding whether the plaintiff has stated a claim, a court must assume that plaintiff's allegations are true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Usher v. City of L.A., 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987). However, the court is not required to accept as true “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences.” In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).

         III. Discussion

         The Court begins by addressing the issue of whether plaintiffs' claims are preempted by section 301 of the LMRA in light of the collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”) into which defendant and the United Steel Workers union entered, as well as related guidelines.[1]

         A. Preemption Under the Labor Management Relations Act

         Section 301 of the LMRA provides:

Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties.

29 U.S.C. § 185(a). By enacting this statute, Congress charged federal courts with a “mandate . . . to fashion a body of federal common law to be used to address disputes arising out of labor contracts.” Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 209 (1985); see also Local 174, Teamsters v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95, 104 (1962) (explaining that “in enacting [section] 301 Congress intended doctrines of federal labor law uniformly to prevail over inconsistent local rules”); Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills of Ala., 353 U.S. 448, 456 (1957) (concluding that “the substantive law to apply in suits under [section] 301(a) is federal law, which the courts must fashion from the policy of our national labor laws”). As a result of this broad federal mandate, the Supreme Court has explained, the “preemptive force of [section] 301 is so powerful as to displace entirely any state cause of action for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization.” Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 23 (1983) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         To determine whether a claim is preempted by section 301, the Court must first consider “whether the asserted cause of action involves a right conferred upon an employee by virtue of state law, not by a CBA.” Burnside v. Kiewit Pac. Corp., 491 F.3d 1053, 1059 (9th Cir. 2007). If the right exists solely as a result of a CBA, the claim is preempted and the court's analysis ends. Id. If, however, the right exists independently of a CBA, the court must consider “whether it is nevertheless ‘substantially dependent on analysis of a collective-bargaining agreement.'” Id. (quoting Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 394 (1987)). If such analysis is required, the claim is preempted. Id. at 1059-60. This is true even where plaintiffs have not alleged a breach of contract in ...


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