California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Defamation

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Former CEO’s Defamation Action Was Properly Dismissed With Anti-SLAPP Motion

Charney v. Standard General, LP, 10 Cal. App. 5th 149 (2017) Dov Charney, the former president and CEO of American Apparel, Inc., was terminated following an investigation into allegations that he had engaged in various types of misconduct. Following Charney’s departure, Standard General effectively took over American Apparel through its control of company stock and … Continue Reading

Workplace Violence Injunction Was Improperly Entered Against Out-Of-State Resident

ViaView, Inc. v. Retzlaff, 2016 WL 3626708 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016) ViaView filed a petition for a workplace violence restraining order against Thomas Retzlaff, a resident of Texas, who had filed a motion to quash the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court denied the motion to quash and granted a permanent injunction … Continue Reading

Employee’s Threat To File False Criminal Complaint Against Former Employer Was Extortion

Stenehjem v. Sareen, 2014 WL 2646729 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) Jerome Stenehjem sued his former employer and its president and CEO, Surya Sareen, for defamation, among other things. In response, Sareen filed a cross-complaint for civil extortion, alleging, among other things, that while representing himself, Stenehjem made a written threat by email to file a … Continue Reading

Employee’s Wrongful Termination And Defamation Claims Were Properly Dismissed

McGrory v. Applied Signal Tech., 212 Cal. App. 4th 1510 (2013) John McGrory alleged his employment was terminated because he is male and because he participated in his employer’s internal investigation. He also alleged defamation associated with a statement the vice president of human resources made to another employee about why McGrory had been terminated. … Continue Reading

Sexual Assault Victim’s Motion To Strike Supervisor’s Defamation Claim Was Properly Granted

Aber v. Comstock, 212 Cal. App. 4th 931 (2013) Lisa Aber sued her employer and two co-employees (Michael Comstock, Aber’s supervisor, and James Cioppa) for sexual harassment and sexual battery, among other things. Comstock filed a cross-complaint against Aber in which he alleged defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In response to Comstock’s cross-complaint, … Continue Reading

Sexual Harassment Complaints Are Subject To Anti-SLAPP Motions To Strike

Aber v. Comstock, 2012 WL 6863235 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 18, 2012) Plaintiff Lisa Aber sued her employer and two of its employees, alleging that the employees had sexually assaulted her.  Michael Comstock, one of the employee defendants, filed a cross-complaint against Aber, alleging claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Comstock alleged … Continue Reading

$160,000 Sexual Harassment Verdict And Attorney’s Fee Award Of $677,000 Affirmed

Fuentes v. AutoZone, Inc., 200 Cal. App. 4th 1221 (2011) Marcela Fuentes worked as a part-time customer service representative (cashier) for AutoZone. Fuentes alleged that two managers (Melvin Garcia and Gonzalo Carrillo) had spread rumors that Fuentes had sexually transmitted herpes; that she and a coworker were engaged in a sexual relationship; and that she … Continue Reading

Employee’s Lawyer Should Not Be Present During Client’s Psych Exam

Toyota v. Superior Court, 189 Cal. App. 4th 1391 (2010) Steven Braun sued Toyota Motor Sales and his supervisor Randall Bauer for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, defamation, constructive discharge and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Toyota and Bauer filed a motion to compel Braun to submit to an independent psychiatric examination, which the … Continue Reading

Employer Could Proceed With Defamation And Interference Claims Against Employees Who Protested Their Termination

Overhill Farms, Inc. v. Lopez, 190 Cal. App. 4th 1248 (2010) After the IRS notified Overhill Farms that 231 of its then-current employees had provided invalid social security numbers, Overhill contacted the employees identified by the IRS, advised them that their social security numbers were invalid according to the IRS, and provided them with the … Continue Reading

Former Employee Proved No Damages As A Result Of Alleged Defamation

The Nethercutt Collection v. Regalia, 172 Cal. App. 4th 361 (2009) Michael Regalia sued The Nethercutt Collection for wrongful termination and slander after he was terminated as its president. The jury rejected the wrongful termination claim, but awarded Regalia $750,000 in damages for “assumed harm” to his reputation arising from two statements attributable to the … Continue Reading

Church Was Shielded From Liability For Statements Made To Congregation About Pastor’s Termination

Gunn v. Mariners Church, Inc., 167 Cal. App. 4th 206 (2008) Robert Gunn sued the church for defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress after the senior pastor announced to the congregation that the church had terminated Gunn from his pastoral position because he had admitted to (homosexual) acts, which the church … Continue Reading

Employee Of Syrian National Origin May Proceed With Discrimination And Defamation Claims

Mamou v. Trendwest Resorts, Inc., 165 Cal. App. 4th 686 (2008) Tamer Mamou was employed as a project director for Trendwest (a company that sells timeshares at various resort locations) when he was terminated after approximately 12 years of employment. Trendwest terminated Mamou after it became aware that he had filed documents with the California … Continue Reading

Common Interest Privilege Does Not Shield AT&T From Potential Defamation Claim

SDV/ACCI, Inc. v. AT&T Corp., 522 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2008) SDV/ACCI (a consulting and staffing service company) and its principals sued AT&T after one of AT&T’s employees sent several e-mails in and outside the company stating that SDV/ACCI would no longer be providing services to AT&T because SDV/ACCI was having “financial difficulties.” The district … Continue Reading

Former Employer’s Claims Were Properly Dismissed Under Anti-SLAPP Statute

Nygård, Inc. v. Uusi-Kerttula, 159 Cal. App. 4th 1027 (2008) After quitting his employment with Nygård, Timo Uusi-Kerttula gave an interview about his work experiences to a Finnish magazine. Nygård then sued Timo and the magazine for a variety of claims, including breach of contract and defamation. The trial court granted defendants’ motion to strike … Continue Reading

Release Enforced As To Defamation And Overtime Claims – But Not Claim Under USERRA

Perez v. Uline, Inc., 157 Cal. App. 4th 953 (2007) On the day that Brian Perez, a captain in the United States Marine Corps Reserves, returned to work after duty with the Reserves, his employment with Uline, Inc. was terminated. He was presented with a “Severance Agreement and Release,” offering him severance in the amount … Continue Reading

Defamation Claims Of University’s Former Head Coach Were Properly Dismissed Under Anti-SLAPP Law

McGarry v. University of San Diego, 154 Cal. App. 4th 97 (2007) Following the termination of Kevin McGarry’s employment as head coach of USD’s football team, two university officials allegedly commented to the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper about the reasons for the termination. In response to these statements, McGarry sued the university and the … Continue Reading

Employee’s Defamation Claim Was Properly Dismissed, But Court Improperly Instructed Jury On Remaining Claim

Raghavan v. Boeing Co., 133 Cal. App. 4th 1120 (2005) Krishnan Raghavan sued Boeing for defamation, among other things, based upon a written reprimand that Raghavan received in which he was accused of (1) failing to disclose all relevant information concerning a business trip he had made to Russia in April 2001 and (2) providing … Continue Reading

Non-Profit Organization’s Motion To Strike Company’s Defamation Action Should Have Been Granted

Fashion 21 v. Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, 117 Cal. App. 4th 1138 (2004) Fashion 21, a nationwide retailer of women’s clothing, purchased garments from manufacturers and sewing contractors that allegedly exploited their employees by refusing to properly pay them or provide them with clean and safe facilities in which to work. The … Continue Reading

E-Mail Messages Accusing Individual Of Stealing Copyrighted Material And Plagiarism Were Only “Opinion”

Franklin v. Dynamic Details, Inc., 116 Cal. App. 4th 375 (2004) Bryan Franklin and Franklin-Choi Corporation (FCC) sued Dynamic Details, Inc. (DDi) and Jim Axton for defamation and tortious interference after Axton sent three e-mail messages to companies with which Franklin and FCC did business; the e-mail messages accused Franklin and FCC of plagiarism and … Continue Reading

Court Upholds $775,000 Jury Award Against Employees Who Libeled Former Employer And Company Executives

Varian Med. Sys., Inc. v. Delfino, 113 Cal. App. 4th 273, 6 Cal.Rptr.3d 325 (2003) Varian and two of its executives, George Zdasiuk and Susan B. Felch, sued two former employees, Michelangelo Delfino and Mary Day, after Delfino and Day used Internet bulletin boards to post more than 13,000 derogatory messages about Varian and the two executives. … Continue Reading

Summary Judgment Affirmed In Favor Of Employer That Made Erroneous Statements About Former Employee

Noel v. River Hills Wilsons, Inc., 113 Cal. App. 4th 1363 (2003) Brandon J. Noel sued his former employer, River Hills Wilsons, Inc. (Wilsons), and a Wilsons manager, Shelly Santillan, for defamation arising from Santillan’s erroneous statements to a background investigator (Choice- Point) retained by Noel’s new employer (GTE) that Noel left Wilsons because of … Continue Reading

Employer’s Anti-SLAPP Motion Against Employee Was Properly Denied

Du Charme v. IBEW, Local 45, 110 Cal. App. 4th 107 (2003) Frank Du Charme sued the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Local 45 and Cecil Wynn, the individual who was assigned to operate Local 45 after it was placed in trusteeship in conjunction with an investigation into its financial operations. Among other things, … Continue Reading
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