Johnson v. Lucent Techs. Inc., 653 F.3d 1000 (2011)

In 2008, Russell H. Johnson, III, an African-American, sued Lucent and the administrator of his disability insurance benefits for retaliation in violation of Title VII, violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and intentional infliction of emotional distress in retaliation for his filing suit against Lucent in 2005 for stopping payment of his disability benefits. In an amended pleading, Johnson added the LAPD as a defendant and added claims for medical benefits malpractice, violation of RICO, extortion, psychiatric coercion, etc. The district court dismissed Johnson’s claims, but the Ninth Circuit reversed in part, holding that Johnson’s Section 1981 claim (guaranteeing all persons the same right to make and enforce contracts as is enjoyed by white citizens) was subject to a four-year (not a two-year) statute of limitations. The court further held that although Johnson’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress was subject to a two-year statute of limitations, it was possible that he “experienced severe harm when Lucent filed its petition to terminate benefits, when [another court in which Johnson was litigating against Lucent] granted the petition, or when Lucent actually stopped payment” – all of which occurred fewer than two years before Johnson filed his latest lawsuit. The Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of Johnson’s Title VII claim (no equitable tolling was applicable) and his fraudulent concealment and abuse of process claims. See also Withrow v. Bache Halsey Stuart Shield, Inc., 655 F.3d 1032 (2011) (claim for unpaid ERISA benefits was not 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; www.jurispub.com), 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.