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Juarez v. The Northwestern Mut. Life Ins. Co., Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

November 14, 2014

RUBEN JUAREZ, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
THE NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY, INC., Defendant

For Ruben Juarez, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff: Adam T Klein, Lewis M. Steel, Michael Noah Litrownik, Ossai Miazad, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Outten & Golden, LLP (NYC), New York, NY; Thomas Andrew Saenz, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Maldef, Los Angeles, CA; Olivia J. Quinto, PRO HAC VICE, Outten & Golden,LLP (NYC), New York, NY; Victor Viramontes, PRO HAC VICE, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Los Angeles, CA.

For The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Inc., Defendant: Christopher Alan Parlo, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brendan Thomas Killeen, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP (New York), New York, NY; John A Haase, Paul F. Heaton, PRO HAC VICE, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C, Green Bay, WI.

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OPINION & ORDER

KATHERINE B. FORREST, United States District Judge.

On July 9, 2014, plaintiff Ruben Juarez (" plaintiff" or " Juarez" ) filed this action, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, against The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Inc. (" defendant" or " Northwestern Mutual" ), alleging alienage discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (ECF No. 2 (" Compl." ).) Plaintiff alleges that he was legally authorized to work in the United States, applied for a position at Northwestern Mutual, and was rejected pursuant to a policy that denies employment to all persons who are not U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents (" LPRs" ). On September 4, 2014, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 22.) The motion became fully briefed on October 10, 2014 (ECF No. 40) and the Court heard oral argument on the motion on November 3, 2014. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

The Complaint alleges the following facts.[1] The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (" DACA" ) is a federal program that authorizes recipients to remain in the United States for two years[2] and to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (" EAD" ), a federal work permit, and a Social Security number. (See Compl. ¶ ¶ 16-17.) Juarez is a Mexican national residing in New York. (Id. ¶ 2.) On October

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25, 2012, Jaurez obtained DACA status.[3] (Id. ¶ 20.) Juarez obtained an EAD around the same time and received a Social Security number on November 2, 2012. (Id. ¶ ¶ 20-21.)

On October 26, 2012, Juarez submitted a resume to a Northwestern Mutual representative who was recruiting college students to become interns. (Id. ¶ 22.) On December 11, 2013, Juarez interviewed at Northwestern Mutual with Susan Lewandowski (" Lewandowski" ). (Id. ¶ 25.) After the interview, Lewandowski requested Juarez's employment documents. (Id. ¶ 26.) Juarez provided his valid Social Security number. (Id.) Lewandowski then asked Juarez whether he was a U.S. citizen or a green-card holder. (Id. ¶ 27.) Juarez explained that he had DACA status and an EAD and that he was legally authorized to work in the United States. (Id.) On December 17, 2013, Juarez e-mailed Lewandowski and informed her that, based on his research, " he could legally work for Northwestern Mutual regardless of whether he was a citizen or had a visa." (Id. ¶ 29.) Later that day, Lewandowski replied, " [s]orry but you have to be a U.S. citizen or have a green card." (Id. ¶ 30 (internal quotation marks omitted).) According to the Complaint, " Northwestern Mutual advertises its blanket ban against hiring anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident on its website." [4] (Id. ¶ 31.)

On July 9, 2014, Juarez filed this putative class action against Northwestern Mutual, alleging alienage discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. (ECF No. 2.) On September 4, 2014, defendant filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim. (ECF No. 22.) That motion is the subject of this Opinion & Order.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must allege " enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly,550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007). " A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). In applying that standard, the court accepts as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and draws all reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor, but does not credit ...


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