Leonard v. Fedex Freight, Inc., No. 2:19-cv-00042-MCE-KJN

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Writing for the CourtMORRISON C. ENGLAND, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Decision Date30 September 2019
PartiesSEAN LEONARD, MEL MENDIETA, on behalf of themselves, and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. FEDEX FREIGHT, INC. and Does 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. 2:19-cv-00042-MCE-KJN

SEAN LEONARD, MEL MENDIETA, on behalf of themselves,
and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
FEDEX FREIGHT, INC. and Does 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

No. 2:19-cv-00042-MCE-KJN

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

September 30, 2019


MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

By way of this action, Plaintiffs Sean Leonard and Mel Mendieta (collectively "Plaintiffs") seek to recover from Defendant FedEx Freight, Inc. ("Defendant") for violations of California's wage and hour laws and for retaliation. Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings ("Motion") (ECF No. 14) seeking to dismiss the union-retaliation claims on the basis that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over those causes of action because they are preempted by the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"). For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED with leave to amend.1

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BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are currently employed as drivers at the Stockton FedEx terminal. Pls.' Compl, ECF No. 1-1, ¶ 17. In 2015, drivers—including Plaintiffs—selected a union, Teamsters Local 439, as their designated representative to negotiate terms and conditions of their employment with Defendant. Pls.' Compl. ¶ 17.

On January 11, 2018, a union representative from Teamsters Local 439 filed a Charge Against Employer through the NLRB as related to Plaintiffs' employment with Defendant.2 Def's. MPA ISO MJOP, ECF 14-2, Ex. C. In the Basis for the Charge attached to the Charge Against Employer, Plaintiffs alleged discrimination and retaliation by Defendant including a refusal to implement an annual routine wage increase that was given to all other FedEx drivers as well as a "unilateral increase in health care costs to the bargaining unit." Def's. MPA ISO MJOP, ECF 14-2, Ex. C. The NLRB found against Plaintiffs and ultimately denied their subsequent appeal. Def's. MPA ISO MJOP, ECF 14-2, Ex. D-E.

In the present action, Plaintiffs claim that during their employment they were subjected to ongoing wrongful conduct including insufficient rest and meal breaks, unreimbursed expenses incurred to do their job, inaccurate wage statements, and untimely pay. Pls.' Compl. at ¶ 1. Plaintiffs further allege that after participating in the union, Defendant unlawfully retaliated against them and committed unfair business practices by withholding wage increases that were given to all other FedEx employees

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and by increasing healthcare costs for Stockton bargaining-unit members. Pls.' Compl. ¶¶ 17-18. Defendant now moves for judgment on the pleadings arguing that each of Plaintiffs' union-retaliation claims is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act and by the exclusive jurisdiction of the NLRB. Def.'s MPA ISO MJOP, ECF 14-1; see also Def.'s Not. of Mot. at 2.

STANDARD

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), "a party may move for judgment on the pleadings" after the pleadings are closed "but early enough not to delay trial." A motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) challenges the legal sufficiency of the opposing party's pleadings. See, e.g., Westlands Water Dist. v. Bureau of Reclamation, 805 F. Supp. 1503, 1506 (E.D. Cal. 1992).

A motion for judgment on the pleadings should only be granted if "the moving party clearly establishes on the face of the pleadings that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.'" Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner & Co., Inc., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989). Judgment on the pleadings is also proper when there is either a "lack of cognizable legal theory" or the "absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dept., 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). In reviewing a Rule 12(c) motion, "all factual allegations in the complaint [must be accepted] as true and construe[d] . . . in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009). Judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) is warranted "only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Deveraturda v. Globe Aviation Sec. Servs., 454 F.3d 1043, 1046 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal citations omitted).

Although Rule 12(c) does not mention leave to amend, courts have the discretion in appropriate cases to grant a Rule 12(c) motion with leave to amend, or to simply grant

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dismissal of the action instead of entry of judgment. See Lonberg v. City of Riverside, 300 F. Supp. 2d 942, 945 (C.D. Cal. 2004); Carmen v. S.F. Unified Sch. Dist., 982 F. Supp. 1396, 1401 (N.D. Cal. 1997).

ANALYSIS

The NLRB has exclusive jurisdiction over unfair labor practice actions under the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA" or "the Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. See generally San...

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