California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Discrimination

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Court Reverses $1 Million Discrimination Verdict Entered Against LA Fire Department

Jumaane v. City of Los Angeles, 241 Cal. App. 4th 1390 (2015) Jabari Jumaane, an African-American firefighter with the Los Angeles Fire Department, sued the City of Los Angeles for racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Following a 34-day jury trial, the jury found for Jumaane on his claims and awarded him more than $1 million … Continue Reading

EEOC Is Entitled To More Information From Employer In Connection With Sex Discrimination Case­

EEOC v. McLane Co., 2015 WL 6457965 (9th Cir. 2015) Damiana Ochoa filed a charge with the EEOC alleging sex discrimination (based on pregnancy) in violation of Title VII, when, after s­­he tried to return to her job following maternity leave, her employer (McLane Co.) informed her that she could not come back to the … Continue Reading

Gender-Based “Fair Pay Act” Enacted

This law amends Labor Code § 1197.5 (SB 358): Broader Prohibition of Gender Wage Differentials Enacted Currently, Section 1197.5 prohibits an employer from paying an employee at wage rates less than the rates paid to employees of the opposite sex in the same establishment for equal work. The amendment revises this prohibition, instead prohibiting an … Continue Reading

California Enacts a Raft of New Employment Legislation

The latest legislative session has just ended, and, true to form, the California Legislature has added more than a dozen new laws affecting employers doing business in the nation’s largest state.  These statutes are in addition to the other six new laws that we reported on in September: Signed legislation: Sick Leave: Accrual And Limitations Language … Continue Reading

School Teacher With Breast Cancer Could Proceed With Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Swanson v. Morongo Unified School Dist., 2014 WL 7399317 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) Lauralyn Swanson was a teacher for the Yucca Valley Elementary School who was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy. After the district’s board of education voted not to renew Swanson’s contract, Swanson sued for discrimination based on medical condition, denial … Continue Reading

University Professor Was Properly Terminated For Refusing Fitness-For-Duty Exam

Kao v. The University of San Francisco, 229 Cal. App. 4th 437 (2014) Dr. John S. Kao was a tenured professor at USF who submitted a 485-page complaint (plus a 41-page addendum) to the university alleging race-based discrimination and harassment at the school. Kao was not satisfied with the university’s two-page response, which he said … Continue Reading

Unpaid Interns Are Now Protected Against Discrimination and Harassment

On September 9, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 1443, which extends the state’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination protections to unpaid interns. Employers are now prohibited from discrimination based on protected characteristics in the “selection, termination, training or other terms” of unpaid interns. A.B. 1443 also prohibits harassment of unpaid interns based on protected characteristics, … Continue Reading

$60,000 Sexual Harassment Verdict Is Affirmed

Kim v. Konad USA Distribution, Inc., 226 Cal. App. 4th 1336 (2014) Following a bench trial, Esther Kim was awarded $60,000 against her former employer (Konad) and her former boss (Dong Whang) for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Curiously, defendants did not challenge the pleadings or file any pretrial motion to dispose of any part … Continue Reading

Male Deputies Prohibited From Supervising Female Inmates Could Proceed With Sex Discrimination Case (Is Orange the New Black?)

Ambat v. City & County of San Francisco, 2014 WL 2959634 (9th Cir. 2014) The plaintiffs in this case are current and former deputies of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department (“SFSD”) who challenged the SFSD’s policy prohibiting male deputies from supervising female inmates. The deputies contend that the policy violates Title VII’s prohibition against sex … Continue Reading

“Unauthorized Alien” Who Provided False SSN Can Proceed With Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

Salas v. Sierra Chem. Co., 2014 WL 2883878 (Cal. S. Ct. 2014) Vicente Salas worked on Sierra Chemical’s production line, filling containers with various chemicals. At the time of his hire, Salas provided Sierra with a resident alien card and a Social Security card and signed an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9 Form). After allegedly … Continue Reading

Proskauer Wins Summary Judgment On Behalf Of Paramount Pictures

On December 16, we obtained summary judgment on behalf of our client, Paramount Pictures Corporation, in a case brought by a former paralegal in the studio’s Business Affairs Administration department.  The plaintiff claimed discrimination, constructive discharge and wrongful termination on the basis of her race.  (The plaintiff was represented by Tom Girardi, who had previously represented Erin … Continue Reading

California Moves to Reinstate Large Emotional Distress Damage Awards in “Mixed Motive” Cases

As regular readers of this blog know, it has been a busy summer for employment-related legislation in the California Legislature (see here and here). Yet of all the bills currently wending their way through the legislative process, none would affect California employment law more than Senate Bill 655. If enacted, SB 655 would modify the … Continue Reading

Store Manager’s Disability And Harassment Claims Were Properly Dismissed

Lawler v. Montblanc N. Am., LLC, 704 F.3d 1235 (9th Cir. 2013) Cynthia Lawler alleged disability discrimination, harassment, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) associated with the termination of her employment. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Montblanc, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Montblanc had … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Rules On Mixed Motive Defense To Discrimination Claims, But Large Verdicts Persist…

Harris v. City of Santa Monica, No. S181004, 2013 Cal. LEXIS 941 (Feb. 7, 2013) Wynona Harris, a bus driver for the City of Santa Monica (the City), alleged that she was fired because of her pregnancy in violation of the prohibition against sex discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).  The City … Continue Reading

Employee Was Properly Terminated For Lying And Failing To Cooperate During Company Investigation

McGrory v. Applied Signal Tech., Inc., 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 48 (Jan. 24, 2013) John McGrory sued his former employer, alleging he was unlawfully retaliated against for being uncooperative and deceptive during a company investigation into allegations that he had discriminated against a subordinate employee on the basis of her gender and sexual orientation.  The … Continue Reading

Police Officer Who Had Heart Attack Could Not Perform Essential Functions Of Administrative Job

Lui v. City and County of San Francisco, 211 Cal. App. 4th 962 (2012) After suffering a major heart attack, Kenneth Lui retired from his position as a police officer with the San Francisco Police Department. After the Department informed him there were no administrative positions available that did not require him to perform the … Continue Reading

$114,000 Pregnancy Discrimination Award Is Reversed Based On Erroneous Jury Instructions

Veronese v. Lucasfilm Ltd., 2012 WL 6628544 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) Julie Gilman Veronese sued Lucasfilm on a number of theories, including pregnancy discrimination, failure to prevent pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Following 11 days of trial and three days of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of … Continue Reading

Summary Judgment Was Properly Granted In Race Discrimination Case

Batarse v. Service Employees Int’l Union, 209 Cal. App. 4th 820 (2012) Ray Batarse sued the SEIU for race discrimination, among other things, associated with the termination of his employment. The trial court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment based upon Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 437c(b)(3) because of Batarse’s failure to include a … Continue Reading

“A Motivating Reason” Jury Instruction Is Upheld In Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Alamo v. Practice Mgmt. Info. Corp., 2012 WL 4450066 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) Lorena Alamo sued her former employer Practice Management Information Corp. (“PMIC”) for pregnancy discrimination and retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Alamo was terminated for poor work performance … Continue Reading

House Passes Appropriation Bill That Limits EEOC’s Implementation of Stringent Enforcement Guidelines Regarding Criminal Screening Policies

 The EEOC’s recent enforcement guidance regarding employers’ use of criminal histories in employment decisions (the “Guidance”) appears to have one more foe: the U.S. House of Representatives. On May 10, 2012, the House passed an appropriation bill that would prohibit the use of EEOC funds for implementing, administering, or enforcing the Guidance. This prohibition echoes … Continue Reading
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