Blue Fountain Pools & Spas Inc. v. Superior Court, 2020 WL 4581664 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020)

Daisy Arias alleged she suffered sustained, egregious sexual harassment for most of the time she was employed by Blue Fountain, which was directed at her by Sean Lagrave, a salesman who worked in the same office as Arias. Although the alleged harassment dated back to when she first began her employment with the company in 2006, Arias did not file an administrative complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing until after her employment ended in 2017. Blue Fountain filed a motion for summary adjudication seeking dismissal of the hostile work environment claim on the ground the claim was barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

When the trial court denied the motion for summary adjudication, Blue Fountain filed a petition for writ of mandate in the Court of Appeal seeking an order from the appellate court that would compel the trial court to grant defendant’s motion. However, the Court of Appeal denied the petition, holding that Arias’ claim was not barred by the statute of limitations on three grounds: (1) several incidents of sexual harassment occurred during the one-year period preceding the termination of her employment; (2) a new owner took over the business in 2015, “[t]hus, even if the conduct of prior management made further complaining futile [and thus commenced the running of the statute of limitations], the arrival of new management created a new opportunity to seek help”; and (3) there was a triable issue of fact as to whether a reasonable employee would have concluded complaining more was futile. Compare Willis v. City of Carlsbad, 48 Cal. App. 5th 1104 (2020) (city’s actions in reassigning officer and repeatedly denying him promotions were sufficiently “permanent” to preclude application of continuing-violation theory).

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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.