Foroudi v. The Aerospace Corp., 57 Cal. App. 5th 992 (2020)

The Aerospace Corporation hired David Foroudi as a senior project engineer when he was 55 years old. Several years later, Foroudi was among the lowest-ranked employees based upon his managers’ assessment of his deficiencies in interpersonal communication skills and limited background in navigation relating to GPS, despite being a technical lead on a GPS project. Based upon his low ranking, Foroudi was included in a reduction in force that was necessitated by certain budget cuts. Foroudi’s position was eliminated and his remaining duties were redistributed to a younger employee with better qualifications. Foroudi filed a putative class action against Aerospace in state court, which the company removed to federal court based upon Foroudi’s assertion of a claim under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). While in federal court, Aerospace moved to strike the disparate impact and class allegations from the complaint, which the district court granted on the ground that the administrative filing with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) did not evidence an intention to sue on behalf of a class or include disparate impact allegations. Foroudi then dismissed the ADEA claim and the matter was remanded to state court.

Once the case was back in state court, Foroudi attempted to amend his EEOC/DFEH administrative charge to include class allegations – while the EEOC issued a new right-to-sue letter, the DFEH did not. Then, Foroudi sought leave to file a second amended complaint to add class and disparate impact claims to his lawsuit, which the trial court denied. The trial court subsequently granted Aerospace’s motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeal affirmed on the ground that there was a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for his termination (the company-wide RIF) and there was no “substantial evidence” that the reasons offered by Aerospace were untrue or pretextual.