Jenkins v. County of Riverside, 138 Cal. App. 4th 593 (2006)

Evelyn Jenkins worked as a full-time “Office Assistant II” for the County for six years before her employment was terminated. During the entire six years, Jenkins was classified as a “temporary employee.” After taking a workers’ compensation leave of absence and having surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, Jenkins informed the County that she was disabled; she presented the County with documentation from her physician stating that her disability required that she be provided restricted duty and that she receive reasonable accommodation. Six hours later, the County terminated Jenkins’s employment ostensibly because she had been classified as a temporary employee but had worked more than 1,000 hours per year in contravention of the County’s salary ordinance. Jenkins challenged her termination in lawsuits filed in both state and federal court. Although the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the summary judgment that had been granted in the County’s favor in federal court and ordered that summary judgment be entered in favor of Jenkins (398 F.3d 1093 (9th Cir. 2005)), the California Court of Appeal in this opinion affirmed the state trial court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the County on the ground that Jenkins was a temporary and not a “regular” employee and, accordingly, it could not be liable for discriminating or failing to provide a reasonable accommodation to Jenkins. The California appellate court concluded that the Ninth Circuit had misconstrued California law and held that the Ninth Circuit’s decision was not binding in the state court action.