Horne v. District Council 16 Int’l Union of Painters & Allied Trades, 2015 WL 681433 (Cal. Ct. App. 2015)

Raymond E. Horne was a glazier and a member of the glazier’s union. He also served as an officer and a member of the council and of the executive board of the union. Horne, who is African American, twice applied for an organizer position with the council but both times the position was filled by whites. Horne sued the union for racial discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. During discovery, Horne admitted that he had been convicted of possession of narcotics for sale and that he had served a prison term for that conviction. He also admitted that his citizenship rights had been revoked as a result of the conviction, but denied that those rights had not been restored. When, during the course of the lawsuit, the union found out about the conviction, it asserted that under federal law (29 U.S.C. § 504(a)), Horne was barred from employment as a union organizer because of the criminal conviction. The trial court granted the union’s motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeal initially affirmed, holding that Horne was disqualified for the organizer position due to the criminal conviction. However, following the California Supreme Court’s opinion in Salas v. Sierra Chem. Co., 59 Cal. 4th 407 (2014), the case was remanded from the Supreme Court back to the Court of Appeal, and in this opinion, the Court of Appeal reversed the summary judgment that had been granted in favor of the union on the ground that while after-acquired evidence may limit the damages recoverable in an employment case, it cannot be used as “an absolute bar to a worker’s FEHA claims.” The Court also rejected the union’s claim that Horne’s claims are preempted by Section 504(a) of the federal Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.