United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO
REMAND (DKT. 11)
Virginia A. Phillips Chief United States District Judge.
the Court is Plaintiffs Motion to Remand ("Motion,"
Dkt. 11). Defendants filed their Opposition on December 23,
2019 (Dkt. 12), and Plaintiff replied on December 30, 2019
(Dkt. 13). The Court finds the matter suitable for decision
without a hearing pursuant to Local Rule 7-15. After
considering all papers filed in support of, and in opposition
to, the Motion, the Court GRANTS the Motion to Remand.
Luis Lomeli ("Plaintiff") was hired as a security
guard by Defendant Universal Protection Service, LP
("UPS") in 2009. (Dkt. 11 at 2). He was baptized
into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in November 2017, and
requested a schedule change in January 2018 so that he would
no longer have to work Saturdays, on the Sabbath. (Dkt. 1-2,
"Complaint," ¶ 11-19). Plaintiff alleges that
not only did UPS not respond to his request for religious
accommodation, but that UPS and Defendant Salvador Villegas
(collectively, “Defendants”) also harassed him
for making the request. (Complaint ¶ 37). As a result of
Defendants' alleged refusal to accommodate and ongoing
harassment, Plaintiff resigned on December 12, 2018.
(Complaint ¶ 38).
filed this lawsuit in California state court on October 3,
2019, alleging violations of FEHA (religious
discrimination-failure to accommodate, religious
discrimination-disparate treatment, harassment, and failure
to prevent discrimination and harassment) and wrongful
constructive termination in violation of public policy.
(Motion at 2). Defendants timely removed the case to federal
court on November 13, 2019. (Dkt. 1).
Motion, Plaintiff argues remand is appropriate because his
claims for religious discrimination and failure to
accommodate neither arise from nor require interpretation of
the collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), and
therefore the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
(Motion at 4-5). Defendants concede that Plaintiff's
third cause of action for harassment against Defendant UPS
and Defendant Salvador Villegas does not require the Court to
interpret the CBA, and request that the Court exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the third claim. (Dkt. 12 at 2
federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1441, provides
that any civil action brought in state court may be removed
to a federal district court that would have had original
jurisdiction over the same matter. A federal court must,
however, remand the case if it finds there is no diversity of
citizenship or the claims do not arise under federal law. 28
U.S.C.A. § 1447(c) (“If at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”);
see also Int'l Primate Prot. League v. Admin. of
Tulane Educ. Fund, 500 U.S. 72, 87 (1991). Removal
statutes are strictly construed against removal jurisdiction.
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S.
100, 108 (1941); Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564,
566 (9th Cir. 1992).
301(a) of the LMRA gives federal courts subject matter
jurisdiction over “[s]uits for violation of contracts
between an employer and a labor organization.” 29
U.S.C.A. § 185. “Section 301 is on its face a
jurisdictional statute, under which ‘[s]uits 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.'” Cramer v. Consol. Freightways,
Inc., 255 F.3d 683, 689 (9th Cir. 2001), as amended
(Aug. 27, 2001) (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 185(a)).
Supreme Court has long held that § 301 “preempts
the use of state contract law in CBA interpretation and
enforcement.” Id. at 689 (citing Local
174, Teamsters of Am. v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95,
103-04 (1962)). Not all claims implicating collectively
bargained agreements raise a federal question, however:
§ 301 preempts only “claims founded directly on
rights created by collective-bargaining agreements, and also
claims substantially dependent on analysis of a
collective-bargaining agreement.” Caterpillar, Inc.
v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 394 (1987) (quotation marks
and citation omitted); see also Livadas v. Bradshaw,
512 U.S. 107, 122-24 (1994) (“[W]hen the meaning of
contract terms is not the subject of dispute, the bare fact
that a collective-bargaining agreement will be consulted in
the course of state-law litigation plainly does not require
the claim to be extinguished.”). “If the
plaintiff's claim cannot be resolved without interpreting
the applicable CBA . . . it is preempted. Alternatively, if
the claim may be litigated without reference to the rights
and duties established in a CBA . . . it is not
preempted.” Cramer, 255 F.3d at 691 (internal
Religious Discrimination in Violation of FEHA
makes several religious discrimination claims, each based on
the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov't Code
§ 12940 et. seq. (“FEHA”).
Plaintiff argues that because his claims are based entirely
on his rights under FEHA, they do not derive from or
substantially depend on analysis of the CBA. Defendants,
respond, unpersuasively, that because the CBA includes
provisions governing seniority, scheduling, and job
vacancies, Plaintiff's claims, which touch on those same
issues, require interpretation of the CBA. (Dkt. 12 at 5).
Ninth Circuit has made clear that “just because a CBA
provides a remedy or duty related to a situation that is also
directly regulated by non- negotiable state law does not mean
the employee is limited to a claim based on the CBA.”
Humble v. Boeing Co., 305 F.3d 1004, 1009 (9th Cir.
2002) (citing Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef,
Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 408-09, (1988)). Indeed,
“Section 301 preemption is not intended to shield an
employer from substantive duties that the state might
impose.” Id. Section 301, therefore,
“does not preempt every public policy claim brought by
an employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
Thus, a claim is not preempted if it poses no significant
threat to the collective ...