United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
WITHOUT LEAVE TO AMEND
BARBARA J. ROTHSTEIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Michael Sheaffer instituted this employment discrimination
action against his former employer Defendant Superior Tank
Lines Northwest Division, LLC ("Superior"),
alleging: (1) willful withholding of wages, (2) wrongful
termination in violation of public policy, and (3) sex
discrimination. Dkt. No. 1, Ex. 2. Superior moves to dismiss
with prejudice Plaintiffs wrongful termination and sex
discrimination claims pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Dkt.
No. 8. Plaintiff opposes the motion or, in the alternative,
seeks leave to file an amended complaint. Dkt. No. 12. Having
reviewed the motion, opposition thereto, the record of the
case, and the relevant legal authorities, the Court will
grant the motion. The reasoning for the Court's decision
a California-based regional transport company specializing in
refined petroleum products, hired Plaintiff as an equipment
expert in February 2017. Dkt. No. 1, Ex. 2 at ¶ 2.1. In
this role, Plaintiffs primary duty was to repair and maintain
the company's fleet of trucks. ¶ 2.2. Plaintiff
contends that he was often required to work past business
hours and respond to after-hours work calls and emails.
¶ 2.3, 2.6. He claims he was not appropriately
compensated for time spent working "outside normal
business hours." ¶ 2.4.
also alleges that one of his coworkers would often bring a
loaded handgun to work and leave it "lying around his
worksite." Id. at ¶ 2.9. Plaintiff
complained to his manager about the presence of the gun at
work and inquired as to whether Superior maintained a weapons
policy. ¶ 2.10, 2.11. His manager, informed Plaintiff
that no such policy existed and took no further action with
respect to the gun. Id. "After several months
of complaining to his manager" about the presence of the
gun at work, Plaintiff decided to escalate his concern to the
human resources office at Superior's headquarters in
California. ¶ 2.12. He was then contacted by an HR
representative who informed Plaintiff that the company
maintained a "company-wide, zero-tolerance weapons
policy" and that she would address his concerns.
claims that after he spoke to the HR representative, the
administrator at the branch office where he worked "came
to him at work and started cursing at him for contacting
HR." Id. at ¶ 2.13. According to
Plaintiff, the administrator is also the wife of his manager.
Id. Plaintiff reported the incident to his manager
who, according to Plaintiff, informed him that he would not
fire the administrator. ¶ 2.14. When Plaintiff asked
whether he would have been fired if he cursed at a colleague,
his manager purportedly "answered in the
then reported the entire interaction, regarding both the
administrator and the manager, to Superior's human
resources office. In response, the human resources office
dispatched a Vice President to the branch office with a list
of "'dos' and 'don'ts'" for
employees to sign. Id. at ¶ 2.15, 2.16. When
Plaintiff pointed out that the list did not include a
commitment to abide by the company's zero-tolerance
weapons policy, the Vice President responded that such a
commitment "was not going to happen." ¶ 2.17.
At this point, Plaintiff decided to leave the company and
submitted two weeks' notice of his intent to leave his
employment with Superior. ¶ 2.18. He claims he was
terminated by the company prior to the expiration of his
initiated this action in the Superior Court of the State of
Washington for King County and it was removed by motion of
Defendant to this Court on February 7, 2019. Dkt. No. 2-1 at
5. As stated above, Plaintiff states three causes of action:
(1) willful withholding of wages, (2) wrongful termination in
violation of public policy, and (3) sex discrimination. Dkt
No. 2, Ex. 1. Defendant moved to dismiss the latter two
causes of action. Dkt. No. 8. After striking this initial
motion to dismiss based on the parties' failure to confer
in accordance with the Court's Standing order, Dkt. No.
16, Defendant filed largely the same motion to dismiss, this
time, however, with the required certificate of conferral.
Dkt. No. 20.
12(b)(6) motion tests the legal sufficiency of the claims
asserted in the complaint. Dismissal is proper only where
there is either a "lack of a cognizable legal
theory," or "the absence of sufficient facts
alleged under a cognizable legal theory." Balistreri
v. Pacifica Police Dep 't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th
Cir. 1988). The court must accept all factual allegations
pleaded in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable
inferences from them in favor of the nonmoving party.
Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336,
337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). The court need not, however, accept
as true unreasonable inferences or conclusory legal
allegations cast in the form of factual allegations. See
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 553-56
stated above, Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiffs claim for
wrongful termination in violation of public policy, as well
as Plaintiffs sex discrimination claim. The Court will
address each claim in turn.
Wrongful Termination in Violation ...