MacDonald v. State of Cal., 2013 WL 4522792 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013)

Aaron MacDonald worked for the State of California and the California State Assembly and was fired shortly after complaining that one of his supervisors was “illegally and/or inappropriately smoking” at the office. In response, MacDonald sued for retaliatory discharge in violation of Labor Code § 1102.5 and retaliatory and discriminatory discharge in violation of Labor Code § 6310. Defendants demurred to MacDonald’s complaint, and the trial court sustained the demurrers and dismissed the lawsuit. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that although Sections 1102.5 and 6310 are silent regarding administrative remedies, Labor Code § 98.7(a) provides in pertinent part that “Any person who believes that he or she has been discharged or otherwise discriminated against in violation of any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner may file a complaint with the division within six months after the occurrence of the violation.” The Court concluded that even though the “administrative remedy is couched in permissive, as opposed to mandatory, language,” where an administrative remedy is provided by statute, relief must be sought from the administrative body and that remedy exhausted before the courts will act. See also Wade v. Ports Am. Mgmt. Corp., 218 Cal. App. 4th 648 (2013) (labor arbitration pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement had preclusive effect with respect to plaintiff’s common law racial discrimination claim).