Colores v. Bd. of Trustees of the Cal. State Univ., 105 Cal. App. 4th 1293 (2003)

Lillian Colores, a former director of procurement, contracts and support services for California State University, Los Angeles, alleged that she was constructively terminated in violation of public policy. Nine years after she began working at the university (and 12 years before she applied for and received disability retirement), Colores was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Colores alleged that the university’s wrongful acts toward her were designed to harass and defame her and to create an abusive and hostile work environment for the purpose of causing her an inordinate amount of stress, which would in turn exacerbate her medical condition and force her to resign. The Court of Appeal reversed the summary judgment that had been entered in favor of the university on the ground that there was sufficient evidence that one of the university vice presidents was trying to force Colores out of her job. Further, the Court determined that Colores had succeeded in establishing a triable issue of fact concerning the university’s motivation to force her to quit (retaliation for Colores’s “whistleblowing” and refusal to commit “illegal actions”) and concerning the existence of an implied employment contract (even though Colores had failed to allege one). Finally, the Court held that Colores’s eligibility for reinstatement in the event she recovered from her disability did not defeat her constructive termination claim.