California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Discrimination

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California Enacts New Protections Against National Origin Discrimination

The California Office of Administrative Law recently approved new amendments to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), strengthening the protections afforded to applicants and employees, including individuals who are undocumented, on the basis of their national origin.  Although the FEHA already prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of national origin, these new … Continue Reading

Two Recent Jury Verdicts Award $6 Million and $7.97 Million To Wrongfully Terminated Employees

Two recent verdicts from California Superior Court juries have awarded former employees $6 million and $7.9 million, respectively, in compensatory damages after a finding of wrongful termination. Martinez v. Rite Aid Corp. On March 27, 2018, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury found Rite Aid Corporation liable for just over $6 million after deciding … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Changes Federal Pay Equity Rules

By Anthony J. Oncidi and Nayirie Kuyumjian           On Monday, the Ninth Circuit issued a significant opinion, Rizo v. Yovino, 2018 WL 1702982 (9th Cir. April 9, 2018), authored by the late “liberal lion” Judge Stephen Reinhardt, holding that an employer’s consideration of prior salary information cannot serve as a justification … Continue Reading

Former LA Times Columnist’s Age/Disability Discrimination Judgment Upheld, New Trial On Damages Ordered

Simers v. Los Angeles Times Commc’ns, LLC, 18 Cal. App. 5th 1248 (2018) T.J. Simers, a well-known sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times, alleged disability and age discrimination and constructive discharge – Simers, who had suffered a “mini-stroke” from which he quickly recovered, quit his job after his column was suspended and he was … Continue Reading

Statute Of Limitations For State Law Claims Was Suspended While Case Was Pending In Federal Court

Artis v. District of Columbia, 583 U.S. ___, 138 S. Ct. 594 (2018) Stephanie Artis filed a Title VII employment discrimination case against her employer, the District of Columbia, which was eventually dismissed on summary judgment by the district court; the district court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims that were … Continue Reading

“Inclusion Riders” On The Storm

  Last night, Oscar-winner Frances McDormand ended her acceptance speech  with a reference to two words – “Inclusion Rider” – that sent many Oscar viewers scrambling to Google her cryptic message. But the term, and its legal implications, are somewhat more complicated than several news and entertainment outlets are reporting today. The term “inclusion rider” … Continue Reading

District Court Has Discretion To “Gross Up” Backpay Award To Compensate For Tax Liability

Clemens v. Qwest Corp., 874 F.3d 1113 (9th Cir. 2017) Arthur Clemens, Jr., sued his employer Qwest Corporation for race discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII. A jury awarded Clemens $157,000 for lost wages and benefits, more than $275,000 for emotional distress and $100,000 in punitive damages. The district court reduced the emotional … Continue Reading

Obese Former Employee May Proceed With Disability Discrimination Claim

Cornell v. Berkeley Tennis Club, 2017 WL 6524707 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017) Ketryn Cornell is a severely obese woman (BMI > 50) who was fired from her job as a manager and tennis court washer for the Berkeley Tennis Club. Following her termination, she sued the Club for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate her disability, … Continue Reading

Los Angeles Jury Awards $17.4 Million to Sanitation Bureau Employee

Continuing an alarming recent pattern of multi-million dollar jury awards (see our earlier post), a Los Angeles jury panel recently awarded $17.4 million to a former employee of the Bureau of Sanitation.  The employee claimed he had been retaliated against because he had taken part in “protected activities” and because he had filed a complaint … Continue Reading

Workers’ Compensation Decision Barred Employees’ FEHA Claims

Ly v. County of Fresno, 2017 WL 4546059 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017) Three Laotian correctional officers were allegedly subjected to racial and national origin discrimination, harassment and retaliation by their employer, the County of Fresno. The employees filed suit in court under the FEHA while simultaneously pursuing their workers’ compensation remedies before the Workers’ Compensation … Continue Reading

Employer Was Not Liable For Marital Status Discrimination Or Failure To Investigate

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 … Continue Reading

Employer’s Victory In Workers’ Compensation Proceeding Leads To Dismissal Of Discrimination Claims

A recent California Court of Appeal opinion reminds employers of the need to carefully monitor parallel workers’ compensation proceedings involving litigants who also have civil claims pending against the employer. Ly v. County of Fresno, 2017 WL 4546059 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 15, 2017). Three Laotian correctional officers filed Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) … Continue Reading

California Enacts Statewide Law Restricting Inquiries into Applicants’ Salary History

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a statewide salary history inquiry law that will largely restrict employers in the state from seeking and relying upon salary history information from applicants during the hiring process. The law, which will go into effect on January 1, 2018 and will apply to all private and public … Continue Reading

Former Elementary School Teacher’s Discrimination Claims Were Properly Stricken Under Anti-SLAPP Statute

Okorie v. Los Angeles Unified Sch. Dist., 2017 WL 3499226 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017) Dioka Okorie sued his employer, the Los Angeles Unified School District and others, alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. In response, the District filed an anti-SLAPP motion seeking dismissal of Okorie’s lawsuit on the ground that Okorie’s complaint was based on protected activity … Continue Reading

Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Was Properly Dismissed

Alamillo v. BNSF Ry. Co., 2017 WL 3648514 (9th Cir. 2017) Antonio Alamillo, who worked as a locomotive engineer for BNSF, missed several calls and was suspended on at least two occasions before being terminated. Around the same time, Alamillo began to suspect he was experiencing a medical problem and was soon diagnosed with obstructive … Continue Reading

Age Discrimination Lawsuit Was Properly Dismissed

Merrick v. Hilton Worldwide, Inc., 2017 WL 3496030 (9th Cir. 2017) Sixty-year-old Charles Merrick was terminated from his job as Director of Property Operations at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines Hotel as part of a reduction in force. Merrick sued for age discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, among other things. The … Continue Reading

Statute Of Limitations For Filing DFEH Complaint Runs From The Last Day Of Employment

Aviles-Rodriguez v. Los Angeles Cmty. Coll. Dist., 2017 WL 3712199 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017) Guillermo Aviles-Rodriguez was employed as a professor for the Los Angeles Community College District (“LACCD”). Although Aviles-Rodriguez was notified on March 5, 2014 that his tenure had been denied by the Board of Trustees of the LACCD, his employment did not end … Continue Reading

It’s Time to Think About Arbitration Agreements Again Following Recent $15 Million+ Employee Verdicts

Jury panels in the Los Angeles Superior Court (which is often referred to as “The Bank” by the plaintiffs’ bar) have recently delivered multimillion-dollar verdicts to former-employee plaintiffs.  Many employers doing business in California already have insulated themselves from such disasters by adopting comprehensive arbitration regimes, which would require that such cases be heard by a retired … Continue Reading

Trial Court Abused Its Discretion In Refusing To Compel Employer To Produce Data Sought By EEOC

EEOC v. McLane Co., 857 F.3d 813 (9th Cir. 2017) Damiana Ochoa filed a charge with the EEOC alleging sex discrimination (based on pregnancy) in violation of Title VII, when, after she tried to return to her job following maternity leave, her employer (McLane Co.) informed her that she could not come back to the … Continue Reading

New Transgender Identity and Expression Regulations (July 1, 2017)

In May 2017, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) approved new regulations regarding transgender identity and expression in the workplace. The regulations become effective July 1, 2017. The new rules further expand the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s (FEHA) role in preventing discrimination in employment and housing on the basis of gender … Continue Reading

Handful of State “Job Killer” Bills Move On to Second House

According to reporting from the California Chamber of Commerce, several recently introduced bills have passed the California State Senate or Assembly and now move on to a vote in the second house. These bills include: Assembly Bill 1209 – requires California employers with more than 250 employees to collect data on the mean and median … Continue Reading

Employer That Paid Females Less Than Males Based On Prior Salaries May Avoid Liability Under Equal Pay Act

Rizo v. Yovino, 2017 WL 1505068 (9th Cir. 2017) Aileen Rizo, who is an employee of the public schools in Fresno County, sued for violation of the federal Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) after she learned that her male counterparts were being paid more for performing the same work. In its summary judgment motion, the county … Continue Reading

Trial Court’s Decision Quashing EEOC Subpoena Should Not Be Reversed Absent Abuse Of Discretion

McLane Co. v. EEOC, 581 U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 1159 (2017) Damiana Ochoa filed a charge with the EEOC alleging sex discrimination (based on pregnancy) in violation of Title VII, when, after s­­he tried to return to her job following maternity leave, her employer (McLane Co.) informed her that she could not come back … Continue Reading

Garbage Truck Employee Who Failed To Provide Proof Of Right To Work Could Proceed With Age Discrimination Claim

Santillan v. USA Waste of Cal., 853 F.3d 1035 (9th Cir. 2017) Gilberto Santillan, a 53-year-old garbage truck driver in Manhattan Beach, was employed for 32 years before his employment was terminated by a new route manager (Steve Kobzoff) after Santillan had four accidents in a 12-month period. Santillan disputed that he had four accidents … Continue Reading
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