Honeywell v. WCAB, 35 Cal. 4th 24 (2005)

William Wagner, a sheet metal specialist for Honeywell, claimed work-related injuries to his body and psyche due to employment. On July 20, 1998, Wagner made statements that management was prejudiced against him and hampered his promotion and transfer, that he could not “take it anymore,” and that his doctor had prescribed medication for work stress. On October 16, 1998, Wagner’s wife left a message with Honeywell’s disability coordinator that Wagner had been admitted to a psychiatric facility with a nervous breakdown and that his supervisor and others had pushed her husband over the edge with their “head games”; she requested disability claim forms. Wagner did not serve a completed workers’ compensation claim form on Honeywell until January 15, 1999. The Workers’ Compensation Judge ruled that Honeywell had sufficient information to require provision of a claim form at the latest on October 16, 1998 following the contact with Wagner’s wife. The WCAB held that under Labor Code § 5402, Honeywell was required to deny liability within 90 days of the time that it knew or should have known of the industrial injury, or a compensable injury was presumed to exist. The Court of Appeal annulled the WCAB’s decision, and the California Supreme Court affirmed. The Supreme Court held that “Section 5402’s 90- day period for denial of liability runs only from the date the employee files a claim form, not from the date the employer receives notice or knowledge of the injury or claimed injury.” The Supreme Court remanded the matter to the WCAB to determine if there was evidence to establish an estoppel precluding Honeywell from asserting the defense. Cf. Starving Students, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations, 125 Cal. App. 4th 1357 (2005) ($100,000 penalty upheld against employer that failed to obtain workers’ compensation insurance from an authorized insurer).


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Photo of Tony Oncidi Tony Oncidi

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including…

Anthony J. Oncidi is the co-chair of the Labor & Employment Law Department and heads the West Coast Labor & Employment group in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Tony represents employers and management in all aspects of labor relations and employment law, including litigation and preventive counseling, wage and hour matters, including class actions, wrongful termination, employee discipline, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, executive employment contract disputes, sexual harassment training and investigations, workplace violence, drug testing and privacy issues, Sarbanes-Oxley claims and employee raiding and trade secret protection. A substantial portion of Tony’s practice involves the defense of employers in large class actions, employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination litigation in state and federal court as well as arbitration proceedings, including FINRA matters.

Tony is recognized as a leading lawyer by such highly respected publications and organizations as the Los Angeles Daily JournalThe Hollywood Reporter, and Chambers USA, which gives him the highest possible rating (“Band 1”) for Labor & Employment.  According to Chambers USA, clients say Tony is “brilliant at what he does… He is even keeled, has a high emotional IQ, is a great legal writer and orator, and never gives up.” Other clients report:  “Tony has an outstanding reputation” and he is “smart, cost effective and appropriately aggressive.” Tony is hailed as “outstanding,” particularly for his “ability to merge top-shelf lawyerly advice with pragmatic business acumen.” He is highly respected in the industry, with other commentators lauding him as a “phenomenal strategist” and “one of the top employment litigators in the country.”

“Tony is the author of the treatise titled Employment Discrimination Depositions (Juris Pub’g 2020;, co-author of Proskauer on Privacy (PLI 2020), and, since 1990, has been a regular columnist for the official publication of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

Tony has been a featured guest on Fox 11 News and CBS News in Los Angeles. He has been interviewed and quoted by leading national media outlets such as The National Law JournalBloomberg News, The New York Times, and Newsweek and Time magazines. Tony is a frequent speaker on employment law topics for large and small groups of employers and their counsel, including the Society for Human Resource Management (“SHRM”), PIHRA, the National CLE Conference, National Business Institute, the Employment Round Table of Southern California (Board Member), the Council on Education in Management, the Institute for Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of California, the California Continuing Education of the Bar Program and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills Bar Associations. He has testified as an expert witness regarding wage and hour issues as well as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and has served as a faculty member of the National Employment Law Institute. He has served as an arbitrator in an employment discrimination matter.

Tony is an appointed Hearing Examiner for the Los Angeles Police Commission Board of Rights and has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law and a guest lecturer at USC Law School and a guest lecturer at UCLA Law School.