Small v. Feather River College et al, No. 2:2010cv03026 - Document 24 (E.D. Cal. 2011)

Court Description: ORDER granting in part and denying in part 14 Motion to Dismiss and denying 15 Motion to Strike signed by Judge John A. Mendez on 5/2/11: Plaintiff must file a Second Amended Complaint within twenty (20) days of the date of this ORDER. (Kaminski, H)
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Small v. Feather River College et al Doc. 24 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 ERIC SMALL, 12 13 14 15 Plaintiff, v. FEATHER RIVER COLLEGE, MERLE TRUEBLOOD, and JAMES JOHNSON, Defendants. 16 17 18 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 2:10-CV-3026-JAM-GGH ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS MOTION TO DISMISS, AND DENYING DEFENDANTS MOTION TO STRIKE This matter is before the Court on Defendants Feather River 19 Community College District (erroneously sued as Feather River 20 College), Merle Trueblood and James Johnson s (collectively 21 “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. #14) and Motion to Strike 22 (Doc. #15) Plaintiff Eric Small s (“Plaintiff”) First Amended 23 Complaint (“FAC”) (Doc. #12). 24 for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil 25 Procedure 12(b)(6), and move to strike portions of the FAC pursuant 26 to Rule 12(f). 27 These matters were set for hearing on March 9, 2011, and ordered Defendants move to dismiss the FAC Plaintiff opposes both motions (Docs. #19 and #20). 28 1 Dockets.Justia.com 1 submitted on the briefs.1 2 Defendants motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in 3 part, and the motion to strike is denied. For the reasons set forth below, 4 5 I. 6 FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND Plaintiff worked at Feather River College (“FRC”) from 7 approximately 2005 to 2010. During this time, Plaintiff worked as 8 an assistant football coach, and as an academic advisor. 9 alleges that Plaintiff s job was classified as “Assistant Football 10 Coach/Instructional Assistant” and that he was the only permanent, 11 full-time employee in the football department, besides the Head 12 Coach. 13 identified him as “Associate Head Football Coach.” 14 Plaintiff was at FRC, there were four Head Coaches: Coach Simi, 15 Coach White (“White”), Coach Mooshagian (“Mooshagian”), and interim 16 Head Coach Johnson (“Johnson”). 17 Plaintiff did extensive recruiting for FRC s football program, 18 primarily recruiting African American football players from the 19 South. 20 which FRC had a successful football team and fully filled dorms, 21 while players benefitted from Plaintiff s dedication and extensive 22 network, resulting in nearly all recruits moving on to scholarships 23 at four-year colleges after finishing at FRC. 24 alleges that he and his African American recruits faced racial 25 hostility and discrimination from the community at-large and from 26 other coaching staff. The FAC He was provided business cards by FRC, which allegedly During the time The FAC further alleges that Plaintiff alleges he created a “win-win” situation, in However, Plaintiff Plaintiff alleges he was passed up for 27 1 28 These motions were determined to suitable for decision without oral argument. E.D. Cal. L.R. 230(g). 2 1 promotion to Head Coach despite his qualifications, and was 2 retaliated against for complaining about discriminatory treatment 3 towards himself and his recruits. 4 his job in the fall of 2010, he alleges he was constructively 5 discharged due to a situation of racially motivated hostility that 6 had become intolerable. 7 particularly hostile towards Plaintiff and African American student 8 athletes, and that defendant Merle Trueblood (“Trueblood”), FRC s 9 Athletic Director, supported Johnson in forcing out Plaintiff and When Plaintiff eventually left The FAC alleges that Johnson was 10 changing the composition of the football team from predominantly 11 African American to predominantly white. 12 Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff s claims, alleging that 13 Plaintiff has not plead facts to support his allegations that the 14 conduct complained of was motivated by his race, has not plead that 15 he suffered an adverse employment action, and has not put forth 16 facts demonstrating that he engaged in a protected activity. 17 Accordingly, Defendants move the Court to dismiss all claims in the 18 FAC with prejudice, for failure to state a claim. 19 20 II. OPINION 21 A. Legal Standard-Motion to Dismiss 22 A party may move to dismiss an action for failure to state a 23 claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of 24 Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). 25 court must accept the allegations in the complaint as true and draw 26 all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. 27 Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1975), overruled on other grounds by 28 Davis v. Scherer, 468 U.S. 183 (1984); Cruz v. Beto, 405 U.S. 319, In considering a motion to dismiss, the 3 Scheuer v. 1 322 (1972). 2 are not entitled to the assumption of truth. 3 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009), citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 4 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). 5 plaintiff needs to plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief 6 that is plausible on its face.” 7 Dismissal is appropriate where the plaintiff fails to state a claim 8 supportable by a cognizable legal theory. 9 Police Dep t, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990). 10 Assertions that are mere “legal conclusions,” however, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, To survive a motion to dismiss, a Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. Balistreri v. Pacifica Upon granting a motion to dismiss for failure to state a 11 claim, the court has discretion to allow leave to amend the 12 complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a). 13 “Absent prejudice, or a strong showing of any [other relevant] 14 factor[], there exists a presumption under Rule 15(a) in favor of 15 granting leave to amend.” 16 Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003). 17 prejudice and without leave to amend is not appropriate unless it 18 is clear . . . that the complaint could not be saved by amendment.” 19 Id. Eminence Capital, L.L.C. v. Aspeon, “Dismissal with 20 B. Request for Judicial Notice 21 Defendants request judicial notice (Doc. #14-2) of the minutes 22 of the Feather River Community College Board of Trustees meeting 23 dated September 25, 2008, consent agenda dated September 27, 2008, 24 and employment offer letter to Plaintiff dated September 27, 2008. 25 Plaintiff objects to Defendants request for judicial notice. 26 Generally, the court may not consider material beyond the pleadings 27 in ruling on a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. 28 There are two exceptions: when material is attached to the 4 1 complaint or relied on by the complaint, or when the court takes 2 judicial notice of matters of public record, provided the facts are 3 not subject to reasonable dispute. 4 WL 2241664 at *2 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 30, 2009) (internal citations 5 omitted). 6 “plaintiff's claim depends on the contents of a document, the 7 defendant attaches the document to its motion to dismiss, and the 8 parties do not dispute the authenticity of the document. . . .” 9 Knievel v. ESPN, 393 F.3d 1069, 1076 (9th Cir. 2005). Sherman v. Stryker Corp., 2009 Accordingly, Courts may consider extrinsic evidence when Defendants 10 argue that the documents are matters of public record, establish 11 Plaintiff s job title and show that Plaintiff was not demoted. 12 However, Plaintiff objects that the board minutes do not describe 13 Plaintiff or his job title, the consent agenda does not state 14 Plaintiff s job title, and the offer of employment, which does 15 state Plaintiff s job title, is not public record and therefore is 16 not appropriate for judicial notice. 17 meeting minutes and consent agenda are not relevant to establishing 18 Plaintiff s job title or determining whether he was demoted. 19 letter offering employment to the Plaintiff is not an appropriate 20 document for judicial notice because it is not a matter of public 21 record. 22 in ruling on the motion to dismiss, and DENIES Defendants request 23 for judicial notice. 24 25 26 27 28 C. The Court finds that the The Accordingly, the Court will not consider these documents Claims for Relief 1. First Claim for Relief: Constructive Discharge, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 Plaintiff brings a claim of constructive discharge under Section 1981 against defendants Trueblood and Johnson, alleging 5 1 that he was constructively forced out of his employment when, after 2 complaining of protected activity his working conditions became 3 intolerable. 4 sufficient to state a claim for constructive discharge. 5 Defendants argue that Plaintiff s allegations are not 42 U.S.C. § 1981 provides that all persons shall have the same right . . . to make and enforce contracts . . . as is enjoyed by white citizens. The statute defines, make and enforce contracts to include the making, performance, modification and termination of contract, and the enjoyment of all benefits, privileges, terms and conditions of the contractual relationship. 6 7 8 9 10 Flores v. Von Kleist, 739 F.Supp.2d 1236, 1256 (E.D. Cal. 2010) 11 (internal citations omitted). 12 court s analysis of a Title VII claim apply with equal force in a 13 Section 1981 claim. 14 FN9 (D. Ariz. 2006), citing Manatt v. Bank of America, NA, 339 F.3d 15 792, 797 (9th Cir. 2003). 16 The legal principles guiding a Jackson v. ABC Nissan, Inc., 2006 WL 2256908, “Under the constructive discharge doctrine, an employee s 17 reasonable decision to resign because of unendurable working 18 conditions is assimilated to a formal discharge for remedial 19 purposes. 20 so intolerable that a reasonable person in the employee s position 21 would have felt compelled to resign?” 22 1174, 1184 (9th Cir. 2007). 23 working conditions deteriorate, as a result of discrimination, to 24 the point that they become sufficiently extraordinary and egregious 25 to overcome the normal motivation of a competent, diligent, and 26 reasonable employee to remain on the job to earn a livelihood and 27 to serve his or her employer.” 28 require a plaintiff to establish that his employer created the The inquiry is objective: Did working conditions become Poland v. Chertoff, 494 F.3d Constructive discharge occurs when the Id. 6 The Ninth Circuit does not 1 intolerable conditions with the intent to cause the employee to 2 resign. 3 employment discrimination is insufficient as a matter of law to 4 support a finding of constructive discharge. 5 Cleveland, 6986 F.2d 806, 812 (9th Cir. 1982). 6 alleging a constructive discharge must show some aggravating 7 factors, such as a continuous pattern of discriminatory treatment. 8 Satterwhite v. Smith, 744 F.2d 1380, 1381 (9th Cir. 1984). Id. at FN 7. In general, a single isolated instance of See Nolan v. Hence, a plaintiff 9 Plaintiff has alleged that in 2010, Johnson made the decision 10 to exclude from the FRC football team the African American student 11 athletes that Plaintiff had recruited. 12 this decision was made based on the students race. 13 alleges that when he tried to advocate for the excluded student 14 athletes, Johnson swore and yelled at him. 15 allegedly instructed Plaintiff to deceive the excluded players so 16 that they would pay their dorm and registration fees, not knowing 17 they would not be allowed to play football. 18 that he was excluded from football department meetings, moved away 19 from the other coaching staff to a small office in a janitor s 20 closet, threatened with bad performance reviews, and falsely 21 reported to the California College Athletic Commission. 22 actions, coupled with previous failure to promote and previous 23 complaints that Plaintiff had made regarding racism against African 24 American student athletes he recruited, form the basis of 25 Plaintiff s claim. 26 his complaints about unfair discriminatory treatment in the 27 workplace were the motivating factors in defendants decision to 28 force him out of his job. Plaintiff believed that Plaintiff Trueblood then Plaintiff also alleges These Plaintiff alleges that his race and color, and Plaintiff suffered anxiety and emotional 7 1 and physical distress. 2 leave in fall 2010, Plaintiff resigned from FRC. 3 filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment 4 Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). 5 While on Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) Thereafter, he Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to plead facts 6 supporting a claim of constructive discharge. Defendants argue 7 that Plaintiff was not demoted, that the FAC does not describe how 8 his coaching responsibilities changed, and that being moved to a 9 different office does not trigger a constructive discharge claim. 10 Defendants contend that the FAC shows that Plaintiff was 11 dissatisfied with his job and angry about not being selected as 12 Head Coach, but that such dissatisfaction does not support a 13 constructive discharge claim. 14 constructive discharge is a high bar, because federal 15 antidiscrimination policies are better served when the employee and 16 employer attack discrimination within their existing employment 17 relationship, rather than when the employee walks away and then 18 later litigates whether his employment situation was intolerable. 19 See Poland, 494 F.3d at 1184. 20 Defendants note that the bar for At this early stage in the pleadings, the Court must take the 21 facts alleged in the FAC as true, and construe them in the light 22 most favorable to Plaintiff. 23 against him were racially motivated, that he was yelled at and 24 ostracized from the football department, and that his working 25 conditions became intolerable. 26 allegations to support his claim for constructive discharge. 27 Accordingly, the motion to dismiss the first claim for relief is 28 DENIED. Plaintiff has plead that the actions The FAC pleads sufficient 8 1 2 2. Second Claim for Relief: Failure to Promote, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 3 4 Plaintiff brings a claim for failure to promote in violation 5 of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, against defendant Trueblood. Plaintiff 6 alleges that he was passed over for promotion to head coach, 7 despite having superior qualifications to those of the person 8 ultimately selected for the job. 9 (African American), Plaintiff alleges that he was not promoted due As a member of a protected class 10 to his race, and instead a white person was hired (first 11 Mooshagian, then Johnson). 12 participated in the decision not to promote Plaintiff, and 13 cultivated a culture where discrimination against African Americans 14 was allowed. 15 The FAC alleges that Trueblood The standards articulated under Title VII govern employment 16 discrimination claims brought pursuant to Section 1981. Martinez 17 v. Marin Sanitary Service, 349 F.Supp.2d 1234, 1256 (N.D. Cal. 18 2004). 19 employees or applicants for employment . . . shall be made free 20 from any discrimination based on race. 21 16(a). 22 prima facie showing of the elements of a failure to promote claim 23 under Section 1981, which are: (1) That Plaintiff belongs to a 24 protected class, (2) that he was qualified for the employment 25 position for which he applied; (3) that he was subject to adverse 26 employment actions (i.e., he was not promoted); and (4) similarly 27 situated individuals who did not belong to plaintiff s protected 28 class were treated more favorably. Title VII provides that all personnel decisions affecting Martinez, 349 F.Supp.2d at 1256. 9 . . . 42. U.S.C § 2000e- Plaintiff must make a Id. at 1257 (internal citations 1 omitted). 2 The FAC describes two incidences in which Plaintiff was passed 3 up for promotion to Head Coach, once when Mooshagian was hired, and 4 once when defendant Johnson was hired. 5 has alleged that he is a member of a protected class (African 6 American), that he was qualified for the job of Head Coach, and 7 that the candidate who was ultimately hired in both cases was a 8 white male with lesser qualifications. 9 alleged a prima facie case of discriminatory failure to promote. In both cases, Plaintiff Accordingly, Plaintiff has 10 Defendant Trueblood argues that Plaintiff was not discriminated 11 against and passed up for promotion based on his race, but rather 12 he was the lesser qualified candidate for the job. 13 further argues that the FAC does not plead any facts showing racial 14 animus by Trueblood or anyone on the hiring committee. 15 notes that Trueblood was not on the hiring committee that chose 16 Mooshagian, however, he was on the hiring committee that selected 17 Johnson. 18 complaints about unfair discriminatory treatment in the workplace 19 on behalf of himself and African American student athletes 20 motivated Trueblood s decision not to promote him to head coach. 21 The FAC further alleges that Trueblood was overheard stating that 22 Plaintiff would never be head coach because of the players he was 23 recruiting, which Plaintiff asserts referred to Plaintiff s 24 recruitment of African Americans. 25 Trueblood The FAC The FAC states that Plaintiff s race and color, and his As previously discussed, the Court must accept the allegations 26 of the FAC as true and draw all inferences in favor of Plaintiff. 27 Trueblood s arguments that Plaintiff was actually the lesser 28 qualified candidate, or that race discrimination was not a factor 10 1 in hiring, are more appropriate for a summary judgment motion than 2 a motion to dismiss. 3 the second claim for relief is DENIED. 4 5 Accordingly, Defendants motion to dismiss 3. Third Claim for Relief: Retaliation, 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Plaintiff brings a claim for relief against Trueblood and 6 Johnson, alleging that they retaliated against him for complaining 7 of racially motivated violations of the rights of African American 8 student athletes. 9 asserts occurred as retaliation for his complaints. The FAC alleges sixteen actions which Plaintiff See FAC pp. 10 36-38. 11 exclusion from the football program, refusal to accept Plaintiff s 12 recruits for the football team, and compulsion to work in a 13 racially hostile environment. 14 These actions include demotion, threats of discipline, To make out prima facie case of retaliation, Plaintiff must 15 establish that: (1) he engaged in a protected activity, such as the 16 filing of a complaint alleging racial discrimination (or was 17 involved in opposition of an unlawful employment practice), 18 (2) defendant subjected him to an adverse employment action, and 19 (3) a causal link exists between the protected activity and the 20 adverse action. 21 (9th Cir. 2003); Freitag v. Ayers, 468 F.3d 528, 541 (9th Cir. 22 2006). 23 protection will be accorded whenever the opposition is based on a 24 reasonable belief that the employer has engaged in an unlawful 25 employment practice.” 26 “when an employee protests the actions of a supervisor such 27 opposition is also protected activity.” Trent v. Valley Elec. 28 Ass n, 41 F.3d 524, 526 (9th Cir. 1994). An employment action Manatt v. Bank of America, NA, 339 F.3d 792, 800 With respect to the first element, “opposition clause Freitag, 468 F.3d at 541. 11 Additionally, 1 qualifies as adverse “if it is reasonably likely to deter employees 2 from engaging in protected activity.” 3 1243 (9th Cir. 2000). 4 duties and undeserved performance ratings, if proven, would 5 constitute adverse employment decisions” as well as exclusions from 6 meetings. 7 on the employee s work or status. 8 whether a reasonable person in the same situation would view the 9 action as disadvantageous. Ray v. Henderson, 217 F.3d Under this standard, “[t]ransfers of job Id. at 1241. However, there must be some adverse effect Id. The inquiry is objective: Otherwise, every minor employment 10 action that an employee did not like could become the basis of a 11 discrimination suit. 12 (9th Cir. 2002). 13 between the protected action and the allegedly retaliatory 14 employment decision.” 15 omitted). 16 establish a causal connection in a retaliation claim. 17 Coszalter v. City of Salem, 320 F.3d 968, 977-978 (9th Cir. 2003) 18 (court rejected a bright line rule for establishing causation and 19 found that three to eight months is within a time range that can 20 support an inference of retaliation). 21 Vasquez v. County of L.A., 307 F.3d 884, 881 Causation “may be inferred from proximity in time Ray, 217 F.3d at 1244 (internal quotations There is no bright line amount of time necessary to See Defendants argue that Plaintiff s claim fails because it lacks 22 allegations that he participated in a protected activity and that 23 he suffered an adverse employment action, and because it does not 24 show a causal link between the alleged protected activity and the 25 alleged adverse employment action. 26 Plaintiff engaged in a protected activity, Defendants argue that 27 making complaints to other employees and supervisors about the 28 treatment of student athletes does not constitute a protected 12 As to the first prong, whether 1 activity. Defendants also argue that Plaintiff s complaints 2 regarding treatment of the athletes were part of his job and 3 therefore not a protected activity. 4 that in order for Plaintiff s complaints about the treatment of 5 others to be protected by Section 1981, such complaints would have 6 to be regarding unlawful employment actions against others, as 7 Section 1981 specifically protects the right to make and enforce 8 contracts. 9 Defendants contend that even if Plaintiff s complaints regarding Moreover, Defendants argue Since none of the student athletes are employees, 10 their treatment constituted a protected activity, this is not 11 protected by section 1981 because Plaintiff is not complaining 12 about unlawful employment practices. 13 Plaintiff states that he engaged in a protected activity when 14 he complained to FRC officials and to human resources regarding 15 racial discrimination toward African-American student athletes. 16 Plaintiff states that in protesting the racial discrimination of 17 the students, he was also asserting his right to be free from 18 racial hostility in his work environment. 19 states that he complained not only about the conduct of certain 20 individuals, but also about the supervisors who refused to remedy 21 the racial hostility. 22 favorable to the Plaintiff, the Court can infer that Plaintiff 23 reasonably believed he was engaging in a protected activity. Additionally, Plaintiff Viewing the facts in the light most 24 To establish the second element of retaliation Plaintiff must 25 plead facts showing that he suffered an adverse employment action. 26 Plaintiff states that he was demoted, rejected for promotion, and 27 isolated and excluded in his workplace with diminished job 28 responsibilities as a result of his participation in the protected 13 1 activity. Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to plead 2 facts showing adverse employments actions under Federal law. 3 Specifically, Defendants argue that facts showing that Plaintiff 4 was ignored by other coaches, moved to a different office, told he 5 had performance issues, and told to call recruits and tell them 6 they may not be invited to play football all do not constitute 7 adverse employment actions. 8 this factual dispute or the parties disagreement over the 9 conclusions to be drawn from the facts that have been pled. Such an However, the Court may not delve into 10 inquiry is better suited to summary judgment. Plaintiff has pled 11 sufficient facts to support this element of his claim at this 12 stage. 13 The final element of retaliation is causation. Defendant FRC 14 argues that Plaintiff failed to plead facts showing that there was 15 a causal connection between his complaints and any alleged 16 retaliatory conduct that occurred. 17 a causal link in time between his protected activity and the 18 adverse employment actions he suffered. 19 2007, and complained throughout the 2009/2010 school year and into 20 July 2010, while the adverse actions were ongoing. 21 argue that the period between when Plaintiff initially complained 22 and the alleged retaliatory conduct is too attenuated to establish 23 a causal connection. 24 of complaints and adverse actions, there is a sufficient basis for 25 the Court to infer a causal link, and for Plaintiff to maintain his 26 claim for retaliation. 27 dismiss the third claim for relief. Plaintiff asserts that there is He began complaining in Defendants Because Plaintiff has plead an ongoing series Accordingly, the Court DENIES the motion to 28 14 1 4. Fourth Claim for Relief: Constructive Discharge, Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq. 2 3 Plaintiff brings a claim for constructive discharge under 4 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, against defendant FRC. 5 Plaintiff alleges that his workplace became such a racially hostile 6 and intolerable environment that he could not remain on the job. 7 Plaintiff left on FMLA leave on August 4, 2010, and resigned while 8 on leave. 9 claim for constructive discharge because the FAC lacks allegations Defendant FRC argues that Plaintiff fails to state a 10 that Plaintiff s allegedly intolerable working conditions were 11 known to FRC. 12 proffered by Plaintiff regarding his working conditions are 13 sufficient to trigger a claim of constructive discharge. 14 Moreover, FRC argues that none of the allegations As previously noted, Title VII and Section 1981 are analyzed 15 under the same standards. 16 constructive discharge claim under Section 1981, Plaintiff has 17 plead sufficient facts at this stage to maintain his claim for 18 constructive discharge. 19 fourth claim for relief is DENIED. 20 21 As discussed in relation to Plaintiff s Accordingly, the motion to dismiss the 5. Fifth Claim for Relief: Failure to Promote, Title VII Plaintiff brings a claim for discriminatory failure to promote 22 in violation of Title VII, against FRC. 23 promote claim under Section 1981, Plaintiff alleges that while 24 working at FRC he was twice passed up for promotion to head coach, 25 despite being the better qualified candidate, and the job was 26 instead given to a white candidate. 27 participated in the decision not to promote him, and cultivated a 28 culture where discrimination against African Americans was allowed. 15 As with his failure to Plaintiff alleges that FRC 1 FRC argues that Plaintiff was not the more qualified candidate, and 2 that the FAC fails to show that Plaintiff was not hired as the Head 3 Coach due to his race. 4 the motion to dismiss Plaintiff s Section 1981 claim for failure to 5 promote, this Court also DENIES Defendants motion to dismiss 6 Plaintiff s Title VII failure to promote claim. 7 8 9 For the same reasons as this Court denied 6. Sixth Claim for Relief: Retaliation, Title VII Plaintiff brings a claim of retaliation pursuant to Title VII, against defendant FRC. Plaintiff alleges that FRC retaliated 10 against him because he complained of racial discrimination against 11 himself and African American student athletes. 12 that FRC cultivated a culture in which discrimination against 13 African Americans became the norm, and that following his 14 complaint, he lost a promotion, was forced out of the football 15 department, demoted, ostracized and constructively discharged. 16 contends that Plaintiff was not engaged in a protected activity, 17 and that Plaintiff did not complain that anyone was discriminating 18 against him, until he quit his job and filed an EEOC complaint. 19 FRC asserts that Plaintiff s complaints regarding alleged 20 discrimination against students was simply part of his job 21 responsibility. 22 an adverse employment action. 23 Plaintiff alleges FRC Further, FRC argues that Plaintiff did not suffer The elements of a Title VII retaliation are the same as the 24 elements for a 1981 retaliation claim, and this Court s analysis of 25 the Title VII retaliation claim is the same as its analysis of the 26 Section 1981 retaliation claim. 27 this claim is likewise DENIED. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss 28 16 1 2 3 7. Seventh Claim for Relief: Racially Hostile Work Environment, Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d Plaintiff s seventh claim for relief is a Title VI hostile 4 work environment claim against FRC. 5 suffered retaliation and harassment after he acted to protect the 6 rights of African American student athletes, and was subjected to 7 working conditions that were permeated with racial hostility, 8 antagonism, mistreatment and humiliation towards African American 9 students and towards him. 10 The FAC states that Plaintiff Title VI prescribes that “[n]o person in the United States 11 shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be 12 excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be 13 subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving 14 Federal financial assistance.” 15 claim for damages under Title VI, plaintiff must allege that 16 (1) the defendant entity involved is engaging in racial 17 discrimination; and (2) the entity involved is receiving federal 18 financial assistance. 19 trial, it need not be pled in the complaint.” 20 Health Sys. Corp., 29 F.3d 1439, 1447 (9th Cir. 1994), overruled on 21 other grounds by Daviton v. Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., 241 F.3d 22 1131 (9th Cir. 2001). 23 42 U.S.C. § 2000d. “To state a Although the Plaintiff must prove intent at Fobbs v. Holy Cross As a threshold matter, FRC argues that Plaintiff does not have 24 standing to bring a Title VI claim and that Plaintiff has not pled 25 facts showing that he suffered an injury because he was denied 26 Federal funds or that the objective of the Federal funds was to 27 provide employment. 28 individual was not the direct target of discrimination. However, courts have upheld standing where an 17 See Clemes 1 v. Del Norte County Unified Sch. Dist., 843 F.Supp. 583 (N.D. Cal. 2 1994) (court upheld standing for a white male teacher who alleged 3 retaliation for his conduct in acting to protect the rights of 4 Native American and female students). 5 standing to bring the Title VI claim, even to the extent that he 6 was not the direct target of all instances of racial 7 discrimination. Therefore, Plaintiff has 8 FRC also argues that Plaintiff has failed to plead facts 9 showing that he was deprived access to the educational benefits or 10 opportunities provided by the District. However, Title VI does not 11 require a plaintiff to plead that he was an intended beneficiary of 12 the federally funded program. 13 plead a Title VI claim, Plaintiff need only show that FRC received 14 Federal financial assistance. 15 receives Federal financial assistance for many of its programs (FAC 16 ¶ 115). 17 satisfied. See Fobbs, 29 F.3d at 1447. Id. To Here, Plaintiff states that FRC Therefore, the funding prong of a Title VI claim has been 18 Additionally, FRC raises the argument in a footnote that Title 19 VI restricts claims of employment discrimination to instances where 20 the primary objective of the financial assistance is to provide 21 employment. 22 subchapter shall be construed to authorize action under this 23 subchapter by any department or agency with respect to any 24 employment practice of any employer, employment agency, or labor 25 organization except where a primary objective of the Federal 26 financial assistance is to provide employment.”). 27 order to state a claim for employment discrimination under Title 28 VI, a plaintiff must allege and prove that the defendant received See 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-3 (“Nothing contained in this 18 “Accordingly, in 1 federal financial assistance, the primary object of which was to 2 provide employment, and that the funds went to discriminatory 3 programs or activities.” 4 General, 2010 WL 99355, *5 (D. Hawaii, Jan. 12, 2010) aff d, 2011 5 WL 1097751 (9th Cir. 2011). 6 Gao v. Hawaii Dep t. of the Attorney The caption of Plaintiff s seventh claim for relief states 7 that it is a hostile work environment claim. The body of the claim 8 states that Plaintiff suffered from retaliation and harassment for 9 aligning himself with members of a protected class and for being a 10 member of a protected class. 11 failing to state a claim for retaliation, and failing to state a 12 claim for harassment. 13 Defendants attack the claim as The Court finds that the basis of the claim is unclear from 14 the allegations of the FAC. 15 allegations of retaliation and harassment against Plaintiff, 16 allegations of a hostile work environment towards Plaintiff, and 17 allegations of the denial of educational benefits to students. 18 While Plaintiff alleges that FRC receives federal funds, the claim 19 does not include allegations that the primary objective of the 20 federal funds received is to provide employment. 21 Plaintiff has failed to state a claim under Title VI. 22 the motion to dismiss the Title VI claim is GRANTED, WITH LEAVE TO 23 AMEND. 24 25 The convoluted claim includes As pled, Accordingly, 8. Eighth Claim for Relief: 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Plaintiff brings a claim for violation of the Fourteenth 26 Amendment equal protection clause, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 27 against Trueblood and Johnson. 28 against FRC. Plaintiff withdrew his § 1983 claim The FAC states that Plaintiff became the target of 19 1 discriminatory conduct depriving him of his constitutional rights 2 when he offered to protect the African American student athletes 3 from racial discrimination. 4 facts showing intentional acts of discrimination against him and 5 the students he sought to protect. 6 Plaintiff also states that he has pled The “Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment 7 commands that no State shall „deny to any person within its 8 jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, which is 9 essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should 10 be treated alike.” 11 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985) (internal citations omitted). 12 claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for a violation of the Equal 13 Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, a plaintiff “must 14 show that the defendant acted with an intent or purpose to 15 discriminate against the plaintiff based upon membership in a 16 protected class.” 17 Sch. Dist., 2009 WL 1748793, at *8 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 18, 2009). 18 plaintiff may satisfy this showing by alleging four separate 19 elements: (1) that the defendants treated plaintiff differently 20 from others similarly situated; (2) this unequal treatment was 21 based on an impermissible classification; (3) the defendants acted 22 with discriminatory intent in applying this classification; and 23 (4) plaintiff suffered injury as a result of the discriminatory 24 classification. 25 City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr, Inc. To state a T.A. ex rel. Amador v. McSwain Union Elementary A Id. Defendants argue that Plaintiff was aware that Mooshagian s 26 and Johnson s credentials were superior to Plaintiff s credentials. 27 However, this is a factual dispute and in a motion to dismiss the 28 court accepts Plaintiff s factual allegations as true. 20 1 Additionally, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has not pled facts 2 showing that Johnson and Trueblood engaged in intentional acts of 3 discrimination against the Plaintiff based on his race. 4 contends that the FAC is replete with examples of race-based 5 discrimination against Plaintiff, and includes allegations of 6 retaliation for aligning himself with other African Americans. 7 this stage of the pleadings, Plaintiff has raised sufficient 8 allegations for this Court to infer that Plaintiff was 9 discriminated against on the basis of his race. Plaintiff At Accordingly, the 10 motion to dismiss Plaintiff's equal protection claim against 11 Johnson and Trueblood is DENIED. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 D. Motion to Strike Rule 12(f) provides in pertinent part that the Court may order stricken from any pleading any insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter . . . Motions to strike are disfavored an infrequently granted. A motion to strike should not be granted unless it is clear that the matter to be stricken could have no possible bearing on the subject matter of the litigation. 19 Bassett v. Ruggles et al., 2009 WL 2982895 at *24(E.D. Cal. Sept. 20 14, 2009) (internal citations omitted). 21 Defendants motion to strike alleges that numerous allegations 22 in the FAC should be stricken because they are redundant, 23 immaterial, impertinent or scandalous (specifically, Defendants 24 seek to strike allegations of discrimination against students, 25 allegations applauding Plaintiff s coaching qualifications, and 26 allegations 27 that allegations regarding Trueblood s communication with the 28 California Community College Athletic Association (“CCAA”) must be of discriminatory motives). 21 Defendants also argue 1 stricken pursuant to the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. 2 Defendants assert allegations in the FAC relating to punitive 3 damages should be stricken as insufficient, and allegations of 4 discrimination outside of the Title VII statute of limitations 5 should be stricken. 6 arguing that the complaint to the CCAA was a sham complaint not 7 protected by the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, and that allegations 8 outside the statute of limitations are still relevant to the FAC, 9 as are the other allegations that Defendants seek to strike. 10 Lastly, Plaintiff opposes the motion to strike, As noted above, motions to strike are disfavored and 11 infrequently granted. Defendants challenge to the sufficiency of 12 Plaintiff s allegations have been discussed and ruled on by the 13 Court in addressing the motion to dismiss. 14 long and contains numerous allegations, at this stage of the 15 pleadings the Court must take these allegations as true. 16 the allegations may later prove relevant to the claims and to 17 damages. 18 strike any of the allegations pertaining to the treatment of- or 19 discrimination against- African American student athletes, 20 Plaintiff s descriptions of himself and his job qualifications, 21 letters of recommendations and statements made to Plaintiff 22 regarding his suitability to be a head coach, Defendants possible 23 intent or motivation, or the prayer for punitive damages. 24 Likewise, the Court will not strike the allegations of events that 25 occurred outside of the statute of limitations for Title VII, as 26 these allegations may be relevant to assessing liability for later 27 events within the statute of limitations. 28 Passenger Corp. v. Morgan, 536 U.S. 101, 105 (2002). While the FAC is very Many of Accordingly, the Court denies Defendants motion to 22 See National R.R. Lastly, as 1 the Court takes the allegations of the FAC as true, at this stage 2 of the pleadings the Court takes as true Plaintiff s allegations 3 that the complaint to the CCAA was a sham complaint, and the Court 4 will not strike the CCAA allegations as protected by the Noerr- 5 Penington doctrine. 6 590 F.3d 638, 644 (9th Cir. 2009) (petitioning is not protected 7 where the petitioning is merely a sham). 8 motion to strike is DENIED. See, e.g., Kearney v. Foley & Lardner, LLP, Accordingly, Defendants 9 10 11 III. ORDER Defendants Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN 12 PART. The motion to dismiss claims one, two, three, four, five, 13 six, and eight is DENIED. 14 GRANTED, with leave to amend. The motion to dismiss claim seven is 15 The Motion to Strike is DENIED. 16 Plaintiff must file a Second Amended Complaint within twenty 17 (20) days of the date of this ORDER. 18 19 20 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: May 2, 2011 ____________________________ JOHN A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 23