Moore v. The Regents of the Univ. of Cal., 2016 WL 3434186 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016)

Deborah Moore was employed as the Director of Marketing for the University of California San Diego (UCSD) until her job was eliminated shortly after she got a new supervisor who believed that the job functions that Moore was performing had decreased to such a point that the supervisor could assume them herself. The job elimination also followed Moore’s being diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy, which required her to wear a monitor and external defibrillator and then to have a pacemaker surgically implanted. Prior to Moore’s surgery, the supervisor notified the human resources department that she wanted to eliminate Moore’s job, even though another employee with the same payroll, title and classification (but with less seniority than Moore) was being retained. Prior to the layoff, the supervisor did not ask Moore if she would accept a pay reduction or any of the other positions that were filled around the time of and after her termination.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer with respect to Moore’s claims for violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and the California Family Rights Act, but the Court of Appeal reversed (except as to the FEHA retaliation claim), finding triable issues of fact regarding pretext for the termination – based on evidence that the supervisor may not have believed Moore was healthy enough to continue in her position with the typical stressors of the job; the supervisor had told Moore that “The first thing we need to do is lighten your load to get rid of some of the stress” after Moore had informed her of her heart condition. There also was evidence that the employer had failed to follow its own policies in terminating Moore and not the other similarly-situated employee who had less seniority. Compare Mendoza v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, 2016 WL 3165856 (9th Cir. 2016) (per curiam) (summary judgment in favor of employer affirmed under Americans with Disabilities Act where employer failed to return bookkeeper to a full-time position following her medical leave of absence).

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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.