Nakai v. Friendship House Ass’n of Am. Indians, Inc., 15 Cal. App. 5th 32 (2017)

Orlando Nakai was employed for over 20 years by Friendship House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program providing treatment services to Native Americans. His employment was terminated by the program’s CEO (who also happened to be his mother-in-law) after his wife informed the CEO that Nakai had a gun and was angry at Friendship House employees and that she had obtained a restraining order against him. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Friendship House, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that Nakai was “treated differently not because he was married, but because he happened to be married to the CEO’s daughter – a political problem, not a marital discrimination problem. Further, Nakai failed to show that the employer’s stated reasons for the termination – the gun and the TRO, etc. – were pretext for marital status discrimination. Finally, the Court held that Friendship House was not contractually or statutorily required to conduct an investigation prior to terminating Nakai’s employment, which was terminable at will.