Dang v. Maruichi Am. Corp., 207 Cal. Rptr. 3d 658 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016)

Khanh Dang sued his former employer for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, claiming that Maruichi had discharged him for engaging in concerted activity relating to unionizing efforts. The trial court granted Maruichi’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that it lacked jurisdiction because Dang’s claim was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the discharge of a supervisor based on his participation in union or concerted activity is not unlawful under federal law because supervisors (unlike employees) are not protected by section 7 of the NLRA; further, section 8 of the Act could not have been violated because Dang’s termination did not interfere with the employees’ section 7 rights. Therefore, a finding of “Garmon preemption” was not warranted, and the employer’s motion should have been denied.