Lujan v. Minagar, 124 Cal. App. 4th 1040 (2004)

Shala Minagar, the owner of a beauty salon in Malibu, fired two employees (including one who had made a complaint to Cal-OSHA) the day the agency inspected the salon and cited Minagar for several minor workplace safety violations. The Labor Commissioner cited Minagar for firing one of the employees (Noelle Dianella), and the Department of Industrial Relations ordered her to reinstate the employee with back pay, which Minagar refused to do. At the ensuing trial, it was established that although Dianella was not the employee who had complained to Cal-OSHA, Minagar had nonetheless terminated her "because she did too many mistakes in my shop and I was afraid she will be next one to report me." The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the action after concluding that Labor Code § 6310 prohibits retaliation not only against an employee who has filed a complaint with Cal-OSHA, but also one who the employer fears might file a complaint. The Court also found substantial evidence that Dianella was an employee and not an independent contractor. Cf. Elsner v. Uveges, 34 Cal. 4th 915 (2004) (amendments to Cal-OSHA establish standards and duties of care in third-party negligence actions, but are not retroactively applicable).