California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Retaliation

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Court Affirms $118,000 Verdict In Favor Of Fired Employee Who Reported A Crime To The Police

Cardenas v. M. Fanaian, D.D.S., Inc., 240 Cal. App. 4th 1167 (2015) Rosa Lee Cardenas was terminated from her employment as a dental hygienist after she made a report to the police department that a coworker may have stolen her wedding ring at her workplace. Cardenas sued her employer (Dr. Fanaian) on the grounds that … Continue Reading

Retaliation Against Family Members Of Whistleblowers Prohibited

This law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who is a family member of an employee who has or is perceived to have engaged in protected conduct or made a protected complaint (such as whistleblowing). Additionally, the law excludes certain entities, such as certain household goods carriers, from the imposition of joint liability on … Continue Reading

N.D. Cal.: Internal Whistleblowers Are Protected and May Sue Individual Directors

On October 23, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California largely denied a motion to dismiss a whistleblower retaliation claim brought by a company’s former general counsel, ruling that: (i) the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (“SOX”) and Dodd-Frank anti-retaliation provisions provide for individual liability against board members; and (ii) the Dodd-Frank anti-retaliation provision … Continue Reading

California Enacts a Raft of New Employment Legislation

The latest legislative session has just ended, and, true to form, the California Legislature has added more than a dozen new laws affecting employers doing business in the nation’s largest state.  These statutes are in addition to the other six new laws that we reported on in September: Signed legislation: Sick Leave: Accrual And Limitations Language … Continue Reading

Federal Air Marshal Could Proceed With Whistleblower Lawsuit

Dep’t of Homeland Sec. v. MacLean, 574 U.S. ___, 135 S. Ct. 913 (2015) Robert J. MacLean became a federal air marshal for the TSA in 2001. In that role, MacLean was assigned to protect passenger flights from potential hijackings. In July 2003, the Department of Homeland Security issued a confidential advisory about a potential hijacking … Continue Reading

Employee Could Proceed With Whistleblower Lawsuit Based On Employer’s Mistaken Belief She Had Complained

Diego v. Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 231 Cal. App. 4th 913 (2014) Cecilia Diego, the former assistant director of Pilgrim United’s preschool, sued her former employer for retaliation in violation of public policy that resulted from the director’s mistaken belief that Diego had lodged a complaint with the California Department of Social Services, which … Continue Reading

University Professor Was Properly Terminated For Refusing Fitness-For-Duty Exam

Kao v. The University of San Francisco, 229 Cal. App. 4th 437 (2014) Dr. John S. Kao was a tenured professor at USF who submitted a 485-page complaint (plus a 41-page addendum) to the university alleging race-based discrimination and harassment at the school. Kao was not satisfied with the university’s two-page response, which he said … Continue Reading

Unpaid Interns Are Now Protected Against Discrimination and Harassment

On September 9, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed A.B. 1443, which extends the state’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination protections to unpaid interns. Employers are now prohibited from discrimination based on protected characteristics in the “selection, termination, training or other terms” of unpaid interns. A.B. 1443 also prohibits harassment of unpaid interns based on protected characteristics, … Continue Reading

Alleged Whistleblower Could Proceed With Wrongful Termination Claim

Yau v. Santa Margarita Ford, Inc., 2014 WL 4198060 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) Eddie Yau, a service manager for Santa Margarita Ford, alleged he was terminated after complaining to his general manager and the owner of the Ford dealership that fraudulent warranty repair claims were being submitted to Ford.  Yau alleged that his termination implicated … Continue Reading

LAPD Officer Properly Prevailed In FLSA Anti-Retaliation Claim

Avila v. Los Angeles Police Dep’t, 2014 WL 3361123 (9th Cir. 2014) Leonard Avila, a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, periodically worked through his lunch breaks and did not claim overtime.  After Avila testified in a lawsuit brought by another officer who sought overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Avila … Continue Reading

Male Employee’s Sexual Harassment Claims Should Not Have Been Dismissed

Lewis v. City of Benicia, 224 Cal. App. 4th 1519 (2014) Brian Lewis, a heterosexual man, sued his former employer (the City of Benecia) and two former male supervisors for sexual harassment and the City for retaliation. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the supervisors (Steve Hickman and Rick Lantrip) and judgment … Continue Reading

Employees Of Contractors Of Public Companies May Sue For Retaliation Under Sarbanes-Oxley Act

Lawson v. FMR LLC, 571 U.S. ___, 134 S. Ct. 1158 (2014) Plaintiffs in this case are former employees of private companies that contract to advise or manage mutual funds (collectively, “FMR”). Both plaintiffs allege that they “blew the whistle” on putative fraud relating to the mutual funds and as a result suffered retaliation from … Continue Reading

March 2014 California Employment Law Notes

$150,000 Sexual Harassment Verdict And $680,000 Fee Award Affirmed Taylor v. Nabors Drilling USA, LP, 222 Cal. App. 4th 1228 (2014) Max Taylor worked as a floorhand on an oil rig where he alleged he was harassed by his supervisors who called him “queer,” “fagot [sic],” “homo,” and “gay porn star” and was subjected to … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Holds that State Courts Have Concurrent Jurisdiction over FCA Retaliation Claims

On January 30, 2014, the California Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District ruled that California State courts have concurrent jurisdiction over retaliation claims under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) in Driscoll v. Superior Court (Spencer). The following addresses the basis for that ruling and its implications. Background Radiologist Scott Driscoll worked for physician Todd Spencer and … Continue Reading

New California Law Expands Protections for Whistleblowers

On October 12, 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 496, which, along with two other new laws (SB 666 and AB 263), expands protections for whistleblowers in California by significantly altering California Labor Code Section 1102.5, California’s general whistleblower statute. The amendments are effective January 1, 2014. Before it was amended, Section … Continue Reading

Employee Was Properly Terminated For Lying And Failing To Cooperate During Company Investigation

McGrory v. Applied Signal Tech., Inc., 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 48 (Jan. 24, 2013) John McGrory sued his former employer, alleging he was unlawfully retaliated against for being uncooperative and deceptive during a company investigation into allegations that he had discriminated against a subordinate employee on the basis of her gender and sexual orientation.  The … Continue Reading

“A Motivating Reason” Jury Instruction Is Upheld In Pregnancy Discrimination Case

Alamo v. Practice Mgmt. Info. Corp., 2012 WL 4450066 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) Lorena Alamo sued her former employer Practice Management Information Corp. (“PMIC”) for pregnancy discrimination and retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Alamo was terminated for poor work performance … Continue Reading

New California Law Protects Employee Use of Social Media

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law protecting employee use of social media by prohibiting an employer from requiring or requesting an employee or applicant for employment to disclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing the employee’s personal social media.  Additionally, an employer may not require an employee or applicant … Continue Reading

Jury Awards Record $168 Million to Employee in Workplace Harassment Suit

A federal court jury on Wednesday awarded a record $168 million to a physician’s assistant who complained of multiple instances of sexual harassment by her supervisors in the cardiovascular surgery department at Sacramento’s Mercy General Hospital. The verdict is believed to be the largest ever awarded to a single plaintiff in an employment case. The … Continue Reading

LAPD Officer’s $2.1 Million Jury Award For Retaliation Is Reversed

Joaquin v. City of Los Angeles, 202 Cal. App. 4th 1207 (2012) Richard Joaquin alleged his employment as an LAPD officer was terminated in retaliation for his having filed a sexual harassment complaint against his supervisor, Sgt. James Sands. The case was tried to a jury and Joaquin was awarded more than $2.1 million in … Continue Reading
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