Arizona ex rel. Horne v. The Geo Group, 2016 WL 945634 (9th Cir. 2016)

Alice Hancock was employed by Geo as a correctional officer at the Arizona State Prison. Geo contracts with the Arizona Department of Corrections to maintain and operate two facilities in the state. Hancock filed a charge of discrimination and harassment based on sex and also alleging retaliation. After concluding its investigation, the Arizona Civil Rights Division and the EEOC issued a reasonable cause determination, substantiating Hancock’s allegations, and subsequently filed a class action lawsuit. The district court granted summary judgment to the employer, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, relying upon Mach Mining, LLC v. EEOC, 135 S. Ct. 1645 (2015) and holding that the EEOC’s pre-suit conciliation efforts are subject to limited judicial review and were sufficient. The Court held that the EEOC is not required to conciliate on an individual basis prior to bringing a class action and that the proper starting date of the class action was 300 days prior to the filing of Hancock’s charge (not the date of the filing of the reasonable cause determination). The Court also held that the district court had improperly dismissed another employee’s (Sofia Hines) claims of a hostile environment, which allegedly included unwanted comments about her breasts, the grabbing of her breast on one occasion, an unwanted “spanking on her butt,” and several unwanted sexually explicit comments directed at her. See also Baughn v. Department of Forestry, 2016 WL 1386040 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016) (former employer’s anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss union’s challenge to employer’s termination of alleged sexual harasser was properly denied on the ground that the action did not arise from protected speech).

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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.