Verceles v. Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist., 63 Cal. App. 5th 776 (2021)

Junnie Verceles, who is Filipino and 46 years old, alleged that he was removed from his school and placed on reassignment with the local district office for three years (which he calls “teacher jail”) due to an allegation of misconduct involving a student.  After his employment was terminated, Verceles filed a discrimination complaint, alleging age, race and national origin discrimination.  Verceles asserted that the school district has a “continuing policy, pattern and practice of age discrimination” and that the district’s reliance on “illegitimate ‘teacher jail’” to remove teachers has an adverse discriminatory impact on employees over the age of 40.  The school district filed an anti-SLAPP motion in response to Verceles’s lawsuit, asserting that his complaint arose from acts in furtherance of the school district’s rights of petition and free speech – specifically, the investigation into teacher misconduct.  The trial court granted the motion to strike under the anti-SLAPP statute, but the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that Verceles’s complaint did not arise from the school district’s protected activity.  See also Clark v. Superior Court, 62 Cal. App. 5th 289 (2021) (FEHA’s exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement should not be interpreted as a “procedural gotcha” where DFEH complaint contained an inaccuracy as to the employer’s legal name).