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Aguirre v. Mundo, LLC

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 30, 2014

IRMA AGUIRRE, Plaintiff,
MUNDO, LLC., a Nevada Limited Liability Company; ALIEN TEQUILA SPIRITS COMPANY, LLC, a Nevada Limited Liability Company; GEORGE HARRIS, an Individual; DOES I through X; and ROE BUSINESS ENTITIES I through X, Inclusive, Defendants.


LLOYD D. GEORGE, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Irma Aguirre, filed the instant complaint against defendant George Harris, as well as defendants Mundo, LLC, ("Mundo") and Alien Tequila Spirits Company, LLC ("Alien"). Both Harris and Aguirre maintain ownership interests in Mundo and Alien. Aguirre alleges that she was the general manager of the restaurant operated by Mundo, and that she was wrongfully terminated by Harris, her supervisor, after she refused to marry him. She alleges that the defendants violated Title VII by discriminating against her on the basis of sex, and by wrongfully terminating her employment. She additionally alleges that employment and shareholder contracts existed between herself and the defendants, and that her termination was a breach of these contracts' implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing. Finally, she alleges that Harris breached the fiduciary duty he owed to her by reason of their positions as shareholders in the same organizations. The defendants move to dismiss (#5)[1]. The plaintiff opposes the motion (#12). The Court will grant the motion in part and deny it in part.

Motion to Dismiss

The defendants' motion to dismiss, brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), challenges whether the plaintiff's complaint states "a claim upon which relief can be granted." In ruling upon this motion, the court is governed by the relaxed requirement of Rule 8(a)(2) that the complaint need contain only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." As summarized by the Supreme Court, a plaintiff must allege sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, "to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Nevertheless, while a complaint "does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds' of his entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 555 (citations omitted). In deciding whether the factual allegations state a claim, the court accepts those allegations as true, as "Rule 12(b)(6) does not countenance... dismissals based on a judge's disbelief of a complaint's factual allegations." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 327 (1989). Further, the court "construe[s] the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Outdoor Media Group, Inc. v. City of Beaumont, 506 F3.d 895, 900 (9th Cir. 2007).

However, bare, conclusory allegations, including legal allegations couched as factual, are not entitled to be assumed to be true. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. "[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id. at 679. Thus, this court considers the conclusory statements in a complaint pursuant to their factual context.

To be plausible on its face, a claim must be more than merely possible or conceivable. "[W]here the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id., (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Rather, the factual allegations must push the claim "across the line from conceivable to plausible." Twombly. 550 U.S. at 570. Thus, allegations that are consistent with a claim, but that are more likely explained by lawful behavior, do not plausibly establish a claim. Id. at 567.

Factual Background

In 2009, Aguirre worked with one of the defendants, Harris, to open Mundo Restaurant (#1, Exhibit 1, ¶ 18-19). Aguirre alleges that she was subsequently hired as a general manager for the restaurant, and that she was paid a salary for this position (#1, Exhibit 1, ¶ 21). During this same time, she owned a minority interest in defendant Mundo, LLC, which owns Mundo Restaurant, as well as a minority interest in defendant Alien Tequila Spirits Company, LLC (#1, Exhibit 1, ¶ 20). She alleges that Harris maintained a larger interest in each of these entities (#1, Exhibit 1, ¶ 70).

In July 2011, Aguirre ended a romantic relationship with Harris (#1, Exhibit 1, ¶ 23). She alleges that Harris continued to pursue her, including making "unwanted sexual advances, " until he subsequently proposed marriage in November 2011. Eight days later, after refusing his proposal, Aguirre was terminated from her position at Mundo Restaurant (#1, Exhibit 1, ¶ 24-27). She subsequently filed a "Charge of Discrimination" with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), before bringing the instant complaint (#1, Exhibit 1, ¶ 30).


Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

The defendants argue that Aguirre's first two causes of action must be dismissed because she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies prior to pursuing the instant complaint. Under Ninth Circuit case law regarding Title VII, "substantial compliance" with administrative requirements is "a jurisdictional prerequisite" to filing a complaint alleging discrimination. Sommatino v. U.S., 255 F.3d 704, 708 (9th Cir. 2001). The scope of a complaint filed in federal court "depends upon the scope of both the EEOC charge and the EEOC investigation." Sosa v. Hiraoka, 920 F.2d 1451, 1456 (9th Cir. 1990). "Therefore incidents of discrimination not included in an EEOC charge may not be considered by a federal court" unless (1) the new claims "are like or reasonably related to the allegations contained in the EEOC charge" or (2) "fall within the EEOC investigation which can reasonably be expected to grow out of the charge of discrimination." Id. (quoting Green v. Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools, 883 F.2d 1472, 1475-76 (9th Cir. 1989)); Sommatino 255 F.3d at 709 (quoting Deppe v. United Airlines, 217 F.3d 1262, 1267 (9th Cir. 2000).

Aguirre's charging document alleges discrimination based on retaliation, without reference to discrimination based on sex. In detailing the ...

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