United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's motion for
partial judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. No. 12). Having
thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the
relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary
and hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons explained
section is based on the facts alleged in the complaint and
written in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff.
2001, Plaintiff, Jon Flowers (“Flowers”), started
working for Defendant, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
(“Fred Hutch”). (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 3.) In 2012,
Flowers applied for a management position but was not
selected. (Id.) The person Fred Hutch hired for the
position was less qualified than Flowers. (Id.) The
person was Caucasian while Flowers is African American.
later learned that his manager had never even considered his
application when hiring for the management position.
(Id. at 4.) Flowers filed a discrimination claim
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC).
(Id.) After conducting an internal investigation of
the discrimination claim, Fred Hutch decided to terminate
Flowers. (Id.) Flowers was asked to sign a severance
agreement before being officially terminated. (Id.)
Flowers asked for 21 days to review the severance agreement
but Fred Hutch would only allow him two and half days to
review the document. (Id.)
reviewing the severance agreement, Flowers decided he would
not agree to its terms. (Id.) Fred Hutch
subsequently terminated Flowers for “poor
performance.” (Id.) After filing a retaliation
complaint with the EEOC, Flowers was subsequently provided
with a right-to-sue letter against Fred Hutch. (Id.)
Flowers brought this lawsuit charging Fred Hutch with
disparate treatment and retaliation under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act, as well as violation of The Older Workers
Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA). (Id. at 5-6.)
states that “as a result of Defendant's failure to
comply with the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act,
Plaintiff has suffered damages in an amount to be determined
at trial.” Fred Hutch's motion for partial judgment
on the pleadings only deals with Flowers' OWBPA claim.
(Dkt. No. 12 at 1.) (Dkt. No. 1-1 at 6.)
motion for judgment on the pleadings may be brought
“after the pleadings are closed- but early enough not
to delay trial.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). “A Rule
12(c) motion challenges the sufficiency of the opposing
party's pleadings and operates in much the same manner as
a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(6).” Morgan v.
Yolo, 436 F.Supp.2d 1152, 1154-55 (E.D. Cal. 2006).
“Judgment on the pleadings is proper when 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., 896
F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1989). The court construes all
material allegations in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Deveraturda v. Globe Aviation Sec.
Servs., 454 F.3d 1043, 1046 (9th Cir. 2006). Thus, a
“Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings may consequently
be granted if, after assessing both the complaint, plus
matters for which judicial notice is proper, it appears
‘beyond doubt that the [non-moving party] cannot prove
any facts that would support his claim for
relief.'” Morgan, 436 F.Supp.2d at 1155
(quoting R.J. Corman Derailment Services, LLC v.
Int'l Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, 335
F.3d 643, 647 (7th Cir. 2003)).
Flowers does not have a cognizable claim under OWBPA
is an amendment to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act
(ADEA) that, among other things, imposes restrictions on when
an employee can validly waive her right to bring an ADEA
claim. See 29 U.S.C. § 626(f); Oubre v.
Entergy, 522 U.S. 422, 427 (1998). Relevant to
Flowers' lawsuit, an employee cannot waive an age
discrimination claim as part of a severance agreement unless
the waiver is made in writing and “the individual is
given a period of at least 21 days within which to consider
the agreement.” 29 U.S.C. § 626(f)(1)(F)(i).
alleges that Fred Hutch violated OWBPA when it asked Flowers
to sign a severance agreement containing a waiver of ADEA
claims without providing him 21 days to review the agreement.
(Dkt. No. 18 at 2.) Fred Hutch counters that a violation of
OWBPA does not provide a cause of action separate from an age
discrimination claim under ADEA, and, alternatively, by
refusing to sign the agreement Flowers did not suffer an
injury under OWBPA. (Dkt. No. 12 at 1.) The Court need not
decide whether an OWBPA violation provides an independent
cause of action because the ...