McGrory v. Applied Signal Tech., 212 Cal. App. 4th 1510 (2013)

John McGrory alleged his employment was terminated because he is male and because he participated in his employer’s internal investigation. He also alleged defamation associated with a statement the vice president of human resources made to another employee about why McGrory had been terminated. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the FEHA (specifically, Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940(h)) does not shield an employee against termination or lesser discipline for either lying or withholding information during an employer’s internal investigation of a discrimination claim – in fact, the Court held that “such conduct is a legitimate reason to terminate an at-will employee.” Further, the Court held that there was no evidence supporting a reasonable inference that the termination was based even partly on discrimination against males. Finally, the Court affirmed dismissal of McGrory’s defamation claim on the ground that the alleged statement that plaintiff was terminated because he was uncooperative in the investigation, despite receiving several warnings, was privileged under Civil Code § 47(c) (the common interest privilege).