United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S RULE 12(B)(6) MOTION TO
DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM
J. BRYAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Defendant Great Wolf
Resorts, Inc.'s (“Great Wolf”) Rule 12(b)(6)
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Dkt. 9. The
Court has considered the pleadings filed in support of and in
opposition to the motion and the file herein.
diversity case, the Plaintiff claims that Great Wolf
terminated his employment in violation of public policy under
Washington law. Dkt. 1-1. Great Wolf (who asserts that the
Plaintiff improperly names it as the Defendant, and not
Plaintiff's employer, Great Lakes Services, LLC), moves
to dismiss the case, arguing that the Plaintiff fails to
allege a clear mandate of public policy, or a causal
connection to his public-policy linked conduct, or employer
misconduct, as is necessary under Washington law. Dkt. 9. For
the reasons provided below, the motion (Dkt. 9) should be
granted without prejudice and Plaintiff should be given leave
to amend his Complaint, if he wishes.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
following facts are from the Plaintiff's Complaint and
are presumed true for the purposes of this motion.
Plaintiff was hired to work at Great Wolf, a hotel and inside
water park, on October 25, 2017, as the Director of
Engineering. Dkt. 1-1, at 8. Prior to the events that give
rise to this action, he alleges that he met or exceeded
performance goals and received only positive performance
reviews. Id., at 7-8.
Complaint asserts that on January 23, 2018, the Plaintiff
reported to Great Wolf management that a co-worker, Marilyn
Milani, the Director of Rooms, “wrote various graffiti
on an interior wall and then destroyed it.” Dkt. 1-1,
at 9. He did so by text message to Human Resources Manager
Tawni Houk and included pictures, which appear in the
Complaint. Id., at 9-10. The picture is of a wall
with writing on it and portions of the drywall torn way.
Id., at 10. There are wall supports and insulation
visible. Id. The next day, Milani emailed the
Plaintiff, “stating that she had begun destructively
tearing the wall down in housekeeping via her pack ritual but
did not plan on encountering insulation and metal.”
Id. The Complaint maintains that she then asked the
Plaintiff to “schedule someone to remove the
wall.” Id. The Plaintiff asserts that he felt
“her actions posed the potential for safety risks,
” and reported Milani's conduct a second time, this
time to the General Manager, Nadine Miracle. Id.
Complaint alleges that in retaliation for the Plaintiff's
reports, on January 26, 2018, Milani reported to human
resources that the Plaintiff “objectified women.”
Dkt. 1-1, at 11. He asserts that when he pointed out that the
timing of her complaint was suspicious, Miracle and Houk
stated that due to the nature of Milani's claims, they
would not treat the report as retaliatory. Id.
Complaint alleges that when he was not disciplined as a
result of Milani's report, Milani began a rumor that he
was having an affair with a co-worker, Herbert. Dkt. 1-1, at
11. The Plaintiff asserts that he did not have the affair.
Id. Milani is alleged to have then “ran an
unauthorized audit through the workplace computer system on
Plaintiff [and Herbert]” and gave his personal contact
information to Herbert's husband. Id. The
Plaintiff asserts that Milani continued to defame and harass
him on social media and through her friends at work.
Id., at 11-12. Plaintiff states that Milani was
increasingly hostile to him, would not communicate with him,
and made it very difficult to do his job due to the
interrelated nature of their duties. Id., at 12. The
Plaintiff reported Milani's behavior, but he asserts that
General Manager Miracle indicated that she disagreed that any
such behavior was occurring. Id. In March of 2018,
Milani was discharged. Dkt. 1-1, at 14.
Complaint alleges that the Plaintiff's performance
evaluation for April 2018 indicated that he
“consistently meets” goals and work expectations
and that his overall performance was “strong
contributor.” Dkt. 1-1, at 14.
early June 2018, Plaintiff and a few other employees headed
to Seattle to participate in a work-related program. Dkt.
1-1, at 15. The Plaintiff alleges that he left with Ms.
Herbert, but that after they left, they received a text
message from General Manager Miracle that they were to wait
on the side of the road for her. Id. Plaintiff
asserts that Miracle forced him to ride with her.
Id. When asked why, the Plaintiff maintains that
Miracle told him, “boys and girls should not ride alone
in cares together.” Id., at 16.
Ms. Herbert and the Plaintiff filed complaints with the human
resources regarding this episode. Dkt. 1-1, at 16. On June
28, 2018, the Plaintiff asserts that he asked Human Resources
Manager Houk about the status of his complaint. Id.
He maintains that she told him that Bryan Robinson of
Corporate Human Resources told her to “put a stop to
any further complaints” and that if they wanted to
complain “they know where the door is.”
Id. He asserts that he was not promoted in July
2018, despite having been given the impression that he was
the top candidate. Id.
Complaint alleges that on July 28, 2018, a meeting was held
between the Plaintiff, General Manager Miracle, and Assistant
General Manager, Nick Licastro. Dkt. 1-1, at 16-17. The
Plaintiff maintains that he politely disagreed with them on
an issue. Id., at 17. He asserts that they went to
human resources and said that, “he would regret being
mean” to them. Id.
August 14, 2018, the Complaint asserts that the Plaintiff met
with Miracle and Licastro. Dkt. 1-1, at 17. They are alleged
to have told him that other employees are talking about his
affair with Ms. Herbert and that they believed that he was
having an affair with Ms. Herbert. Id. He maintains
that he was told that while it was not against company
policy, it reflected poorly on he and Ms. Herbert because
they were both married. Id. The Plaintiff repeatedly
denied the affair. Id., at 18. The Plaintiff alleges
that they told him they had reports of the Plaintiff and Ms.
Herbert talking in the hall, and that he should avoid her in
the future. Id. The Plaintiff felt it would impede
his ability to do his job if he were to avoid Ms. Herbert in
the future. Id. He asserts that he felt singled out
and harassed because other co-workers rode in cars together
and had closed-door meetings. Id.
Complaint asserts that on August 15, 2018, he filed a second
complaint with human resources concerning the previous
day's meeting, claiming that he was being subjected to a
“hostile work environment, ” slander, and liable.
Id., at 19. He alleges that a few days later, Ms.
Herbert was told by a co-worker that General Manager Miracle
and Assistant General Manager Licastro told the co-worker to
report it any time she saw Ms. Herbert and the Plaintiff
August 23, 2018, the Plaintiff met with human resources. Dkt.
1-1, at 20. He asserts that they told him that the
conversation with Miracle and Licastro was intended to be
informative, not punitive. Id. The Plaintiff
maintains that they asked if he was happy at Great Wolf and
he asserts that he told them he was not and was looking for
other employment. Id. The Plaintiff told them he
hired a lawyer. Id. He alleges that they got
defensive. Id. On ...