Alamo v. Practice Mgmt. Info. Corp., 2012 WL 4450066 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012)

Lorena Alamo sued her former employer Practice Management Information Corp. (“PMIC”) for pregnancy discrimination and retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Alamo was terminated for poor work performance after she returned from maternity leave. Following a jury trial, Alamo was awarded damages in the amount of $10,000, and the court awarded her attorney’s fees in the amount of $50,858.44 under FEHA. On appeal, PMIC challenged the trial court’s use of several pattern jury instructions that required Alamo to prove that her pregnancy-related leave was only “a motivating reason” for her termination rather than the “but for” cause of the termination. The trial court also refused to give a “mixed motive” instruction under BAJI No. 12.26 because both parties had treated the case as a single-motive pretext case. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, holding that the jury had been properly instructed.