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Rosenfeld v. NV Energy, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 11, 2018

FRED ROSENFELD, Plaintiff(s),
v.
NV ENERGY, INC., Defendant(s).

          ORDER

         Presently before the court is defendant NV Energy, Inc.'s motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 9). Plaintiff Fred Rosenfeld filed a response (ECF No. 11), to which defendant replied (ECF No. 19).

         I. Facts

         Plaintiff, age sixty-eight, was employed by defendant as an operator from March 16, 1983, until his termination in November of 2016. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff alleges that during his employment he “endured various forms of discriminatory conduct based on his protected category age.” Id. Plaintiff asserts that discriminatory conduct from his supervisors included “unfair criticisms” of his work and performance and “unequal treatment by management” that younger employees did not receive. Id. He also alleges that defendant initiated and enforced unfounded disciplinary actions against him that were intended to harm plaintiff based on his age. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that supervisors made disparaging comments and statements to him regarding retirement and that he was told that he should leave his employment and retire due to his age. Id. Plaintiff asserts that defendant wrongfully terminated plaintiff's employment in November of 2016. Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that his termination was actually premised upon his age, but that defendant based the termination on false allegations of plaintiff's misconduct made by agents of defendant. Id. Plaintiff asserts that he informed defendant that he was being discriminated against and harmed based on his age, but that defendant failed to protect plaintiff from such harm. Id. Plaintiff suffered harm and damages as a result of defendant's conduct. Id.

         On December 12, 2017, plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant, asserting claims of age discrimination and hostile work environment. Id.

         II. Legal Standard

         A court may dismiss a complaint for “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A properly pled complaint must provide “[a] short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). While Rule 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it demands “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).

         “Factual allegations must be enough to rise above the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Thus, to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation omitted).

         In Iqbal, the Supreme Court clarified the two-step approach district courts are to apply when considering motions to dismiss. First, the court must accept as true all well-pled factual allegations in the complaint; however, legal conclusions are not entitled to the assumption of truth. Id. at 678-79. Mere recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. at 678.

         Second, the court must consider whether the factual allegations in the complaint allege a plausible claim for relief. Id. at 679. A claim is facially plausible when the plaintiff's complaint alleges facts that allow the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct. Id. at 678.

         Where the complaint does not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has “alleged-but not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). When the allegations in a complaint have not crossed the line from conceivable to plausible, plaintiff's claim must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         The Ninth Circuit addressed post-Iqbal pleading standards in Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). The Starr court stated, in relevant part:

First, to be entitled to the presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint or counterclaim may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively. Second, the factual allegations that are taken as true must plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not ...

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