Mamou v. Trendwest Resorts, Inc., 165 Cal. App. 4th 686 (2008)

Tamer Mamou was employed as a project director for Trendwest (a company that sells timeshares at various resort locations) when he was terminated after approximately 12 years of employment. Trendwest terminated Mamou after it became aware that he had filed documents with the California Secretary of State in which it appeared Mamou was seeking to establish a competing resale company. Mamou testified, however, that his attempts to explain the situation were rebuffed and that one of the supervisors who was in the termination meeting said to him, “I’m disappointed in you, my Arab friend.” Another supervisor who was involved in the termination testified that although Mamou was not terminated for performance-related reasons, he had instructed HR to “take the lead on building a file relating to Tamer’s performance over the last six months” – and that specific areas to be addressed included “disability claims” and other “HR related claims.” Mamou also offered evidence of negative references and allusions to his Middle Eastern national origin and of various disparaging comments that were made about him after his termination. Mamou sued for national origin discrimination and retaliation for having opposed the company’s adverse treatment of employees who exercised their right to take family medical leave, and he also asserted a defamation claim. Although the trial court granted summary judgment to Trendwest, the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that “there was ample evidence to support…an inference [that Trendwest’s claimed reason for the firing] was false, beginning with the fact that Trendwest never rested on a single coherent explanation for its firing of Mamou, and that several if not all of its explanations were, to put it mildly, questionable.” The Court also found a triable issue of material fact as to whether malice existed, thus vitiating the qualified privilege defense to the alleged defamation. Cf. Parra v. Bashas’, Inc., 536 F.3d 975 (9th Cir. 2008) (district court abused its discretion in failing to certify plaintiffs’ class action alleging national origin discrimination in pay practices); Lukovsky v. City and County of San Francisco, 535 F.3d 1044 (9th Cir. 2008) (national origin and race discrimination claims based on failure to hire were barred by statute of limitations).

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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.