Diego v. Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 231 Cal. App. 4th 913 (2014)

Cecilia Diego, the former assistant director of Pilgrim United’s preschool, sued her former employer for retaliation in violation of public policy that resulted from the director’s mistaken belief that Diego had lodged a complaint with the California Department of Social Services, which resulted in an unannounced inspection of the preschool. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Pilgrim United on the ground that Diego had not in fact made a complaint to the state. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that although former Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5 did not expressly protect “perceived whistleblowers” such as Diego, termination of an employee under such circumstances would nonetheless constitute a violation of public policy. The Court further held there were disputed issues of fact regarding Pilgrim United’s motivation in terminating Diego that precluded summary judgment. See also Satyadi v. West Contra Costa Healthcare Dist., 2014 WL 7448256 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) (amendments to California Labor Code involving exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to filing claim under Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5 merely clarified existing law and therefore apply retroactively).