California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Wrongful Termination

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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

Proskauer Wins Summary Judgment On Behalf Of Paramount Pictures

On December 16, we obtained summary judgment on behalf of our client, Paramount Pictures Corporation, in a case brought by a former paralegal in the studio’s Business Affairs Administration department.  The plaintiff claimed discrimination, constructive discharge and wrongful termination on the basis of her race.  (The plaintiff was represented by Tom Girardi, who had previously represented Erin … Continue Reading

California Moves to Reinstate Large Emotional Distress Damage Awards in “Mixed Motive” Cases

As regular readers of this blog know, it has been a busy summer for employment-related legislation in the California Legislature (see here and here). Yet of all the bills currently wending their way through the legislative process, none would affect California employment law more than Senate Bill 655. If enacted, SB 655 would modify the … Continue Reading

California Chamber of Commerce Releases Its 2013 List of “Job Killer” Bills

The California Chamber of Commerce has just released its annual list of “job killer” bills that have been proposed in the California Legislature. This year’s list identifies 32 proposed laws, including six new “Costly Workplace Mandates.” Chamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg cautioned against “increase[d] uncertainty for employers and investors and . . . higher … Continue Reading

Employee’s Wrongful Termination And Defamation Claims Were Properly Dismissed

McGrory v. Applied Signal Tech., 212 Cal. App. 4th 1510 (2013) John McGrory alleged his employment was terminated because he is male and because he participated in his employer’s internal investigation. He also alleged defamation associated with a statement the vice president of human resources made to another employee about why McGrory had been terminated. … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Revises Jury Instructions And Trial Procedures In Discrimination Cases

Harris v. Superior Court, 56 Cal. 4th 203 (2013) Wynona Harris alleged her employment was terminated by the City of Santa Monica because of her pregnancy in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The city claimed Harris had been fired for poor job performance – she had two preventable traffic accidents and … 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

$114,000 Pregnancy Discrimination Award Is Reversed Based On Erroneous Jury Instructions

Veronese v. Lucasfilm Ltd., 2012 WL 6628544 (Cal. Ct. App. 2012) Julie Gilman Veronese sued Lucasfilm on a number of theories, including pregnancy discrimination, failure to prevent pregnancy discrimination and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Following 11 days of trial and three days of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of … Continue Reading

Wrongful Termination Claim Based Upon Workers’ Compensation Filing Was Properly Dismissed

Dutra v. Mercy Med. Ctr. Mt. Shasta, 209 Cal. App. 4th 750 (2012) Michelle Dutra sued Mercy Medical Center for wrongful termination in violation of public policy based upon Cal. Labor Code § 132a (prohibiting discrimination against an employee who has filed a workers’ compensation claim). After a jury was selected, the trial court granted … Continue Reading

Minimal Allegations Were Sufficient To State Claim For Age Discrimination

Sheppard v. David Evans & Assoc., 694 F.3d 1045 (9th Cir. 2012) Kathryn Sheppard filed a brief, two-and-a-half page complaint in federal court alleging discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) and wrongful termination under Oregon state law. The district court dismissed Sheppard’s complaint with prejudice under FRCP 8(a)(2) after concluding she had … 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

Former Lockheed Engineer May Proceed With False Claims Act Lawsuit

Hooper v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 2012 WL 3124970 (9th Cir. 2012) Nyle J. Hooper brought suit against Lockheed Martin under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act (the “FCA”). Hooper filed suit in the District Court for the District of Maryland, which transferred the suit at Lockheed’s request to the Central District of … Continue Reading

Desperate Housewife’s Wrongful Termination Claim Should Have Been Dismissed

Touchstone Television Prods. v. Superior Court, 208 Cal. App. 4th 676 (2012) Touchstone had an agreement with actress Nicollette Sheridan that gave it the exclusive option to renew Sheridan’s contract on an annual basis for an additional six seasons (after the first season) of the television show “Desperate Housewives.” Sheridan sued Touchstone for wrongful termination … Continue Reading

Touchstone Television Productions v. Superior Court (Sheridan): Refusal To Renew An Employment Contract Is Not A Termination

Touchstone Television Productions v. Superior Court, No. BC435248, 2012 WL 3525609 (Aug. 16, 2012) If you are among the throngs of Desperate Housewives fans, you may recall when Wisteria Lane’s Edie Williams, played by actress Nicollette Sheridan, tragically died of electrocution following a car accident during the show’s fifth season. Sheridan later filed a lawsuit … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Rules That California Law Applies to Delaware Corporation’s CEO’s Wrongful Termination Claim

On May 23, 2012, the California Court of Appeal addressed a question of first impression: Does California law govern a corporate officer’s claim against an out-of-state corporation for  constructive wrongful termination in violation of public policy? The appellate court answered in the affirmative, thus limiting the application of the so-called “internal affairs doctrine.” Lidow v. … 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

Teacher/Minister’s Disability Discrimination Claim Is Barred By The First Amendment

Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC, 565 U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 680 (2012) Cheryl Perich was a “called” teacher for the church and also had the formal title of “Minister of Religion, Commissioned.” After Perich developed narcolepsy, the church replaced her with a lay teacher and eventually terminated her employment for “insubordination … Continue Reading

Ministerial Exception Barred School Employee’s Wrongful Termination Claims Against Church

Henry v. Red Hill Evangelical Lutheran Church, 201 Cal. App. 4th 1041 (2011) Sara Henry taught preschool children at the Red Hill Evangelical Church of Tustin; she was also the director of the preschool. Henry, who is Catholic, was not required to be Lutheran (only a practicing Christian) and was aware of the “Christian-based, Bible-based … Continue Reading

Telecommunications Installer’s Disability Discrimination Claim Was Properly Dismissed On Summary Judgment

DFEH v. Lucent Technologies, Inc., 642 F.3d 728 (2011) The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and Steven Carauddo alleged Lucent violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act when it terminated Carauddo’s employment as an installer because he could not lift more than 30 pounds due to a back injury. The district court granted … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Recognizes “Cat’s Paw” Liability Theory

Staub v. Proctor Hosp., 562 U.S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 1186 (2011) Vincent Staub, a former angiography technician for Proctor Hospital, was a member of the United States Army Reserve. Staub alleged that his employment was terminated in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (“USERRA”) because his supervisor (Janice … Continue Reading

Class Representative’s Settlement And Dismissal Of His Own Claims Did Not Bar His Appeal On Behalf Of The Class

Narouz v. Charter Communications, LLC, 591 F.3d 1261 (9th Cir. 2010) Hani Narouz filed a complaint against Charter Communications in which he alleged causes of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, as well as statutory violations of the California Labor Code for failure to pay wages, provide meal periods, maintain accurate itemized … Continue Reading

Court Affirms $1.1 Million Verdict In Favor Of Terminated Preschool Director

Scott v. Phoenix Schools, Inc., 175 Cal. App. 4th 702 (2009) Jennifer Scott was terminated from her position as director of one of Phoenix Schools’ preschools. Her responsibilities included assigning personnel in compliance with the state regulations that set the minimum teacher-student ratios for child care centers. Scott was terminated shortly after she informed the parents of … Continue Reading

Former Employee Proved No Damages As A Result Of Alleged Defamation

The Nethercutt Collection v. Regalia, 172 Cal. App. 4th 361 (2009) Michael Regalia sued The Nethercutt Collection for wrongful termination and slander after he was terminated as its president. The jury rejected the wrongful termination claim, but awarded Regalia $750,000 in damages for “assumed harm” to his reputation arising from two statements attributable to the … Continue Reading
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