Bruni v. The Edward Thomas Hospitality Corp., 64 Cal. App. 5th 247 (2021)

Theodore Bruni worked as a restaurant server at the Hotel Casa del Mar in Santa Monica before he was laid off when the Hotel eliminated all part-time positions in food and beverage operations.  At the time of his layoff in October 2018, Bruni had been employed by the Hotel for fewer than four months, though he had previously worked for the Hotel for approximately 10 months before voluntarily resigning due to scheduling difficulties.  Pursuant to the recall ordinance of the City of Santa Monica, laid-off employees who have been employed for “six months or more” have a conditional right to be rehired.  When Bruni was not recalled by the Hotel to fill an open position, he sued for violation of the recall ordinance and wrongful failure to rehire in violation of public policyThe trial court sustained the Hotel’s demurrer and dismissed Bruni’s complaint; the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that the ordinance only provides a right of recall to employees with at least six months of uninterrupted employment and not those who, like Bruni, had voluntarily resigned.  The Court also affirmed dismissal of Bruni’s public policy claim on the ground that he had not alleged a violation of the recall ordinance, and, in any event, a municipal ordinance cannot serve as a predicate for a “Tameny tort claim” – nor can a “mere nonrenewal of employment” (as opposed to a termination) constitute the basis for such a claim.