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Employment 

 

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  • PAGA action by a care manager alleging that her former employer, a children’s services and foster care non-profit organization, engaged in wage-and-hour violations, including failure to pay for overtime, minimum wages, meal periods, meal period premiums, final wages and timely wages, issue compliant wage statements and accurate payroll records, and reimburse for business expenses. At the mediation, the care manager also alleged additional CFRA and FEHA claims for the individual plaintiff outside of the PAGA action. The employer denied all these allegations. Resolved globally by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by an African-American forklift operator and picker alleging that his former employers, a staffing agency and a tool manufacturer where he was assigned to work, violated the FEHA. He claimed the manufacturer discriminated against and harassed him on the basis of race when he overheard the N-word in a private conversation between two supervisors, and on the basis of sex when a supervisor grabbed him by his buttocks, retaliated against him after he complained, failed to prevent and correct such conduct, and wrongfully terminated him in violation of public policy. The manufacturer could find no corroboration of these claims in its investigation, alleging instead that it had independently ended the operator’s assignment because his documented performance consistently fell below productivity standards for the four months he worked there. The EEOC investigated the operator’s case and issued a written finding of no merit. Resolved following mediation.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by a school administrator who had a two-year affair with her principal. When the administrator learned that the principal also had affairs with other school personnel, she complained to the school district that the principal had sexually harassed and assaulted her. The district hired an outside consultant to investigate the matter and found the relationship to be consensual and not actionable. Further, the investigation discovered through forensic evidence that the administrator had allegedly falsified student academic records, including that of her own child and another pupil. The administrator denied the allegations, claiming that the investigation was in retaliation for her having complained. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by a 25-year driver alleging that his former employer, a package delivery company, discriminated and retaliated against him for his physical disability, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate him, wrongfully terminated him at the close of his protected disability leave, negligently hired his supervisors, failed to prevent discrimination, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him. The company alleged that it terminated the driver for using a racial epithet against a coworker under the employer’s zero-tolerance policy. The driver claimed the employer’s reason for his termination was a pretext for discriminating against him. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by a manager alleging that his former employer, a set of exercise studios, failed to take all reasonable steps to correct workplace policies and retaliated against him after he complained about same-sex sexual harassment by a co-worker in a non-work setting. After the manager complained, the studio head ordered an investigation and attempted to minimize contact between manager and co-worker. Before the investigation could be completed, manager resigned. The business alleged that the alleged harassment between the parties took place ioutside of work, that the business responded immediately with an investigation upon receiving the complaint, that co-worker had also complained of sexual harassment by manager, and that the business had not taken any adverse action against manager. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by a substitute teacher alleging that her former employer, a charter school, discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of the FEHA and Labor Code section 1102.5. She alleged that the charter school wrongfully terminated her for being a whistleblower when she objected to behavioral intervention for an African-American preschooler without an individualized education plan as required by the IDEA. The charter school alleged that the substitute teacher repeatedly failed to follow lesson plans for teachers whose classes she covered, that these teachers complained about her, and that she was tardy in carrying out her duties. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Two actions involving the same parties. In the first state court action, fashion designer alleged that her former employer, a garment manufacturer, created a hostile work environment in which a supervisor sexually harassed and retaliated against her in violation of the FEHA, wrongfully terminated her, and engaged in unfair business practices. Manufacturer denied these allegations, claiming instead that designer was among several employees laid off because of a business downturn. In the second federal court action, manufacturer alleged that after designer was laid off, she infringed copyrightable photos from the company’s servers without permission. Designer claimed that she created the photographed images, which had not been copyrighted at the time. Resolved globally by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by a packer alleging that her former employer, a meat packing company,  violated the FEHA by discriminating against her on the basis of gender when only male employees were recognized on their first-year work anniversaries, failed to engage with her in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate her request to visit her mother in the hospital, constructively terminated her in violation of public policy, and violated various wage-and-hour laws. The company denied these claims, alleging instead that the packer did not request for any recognition or reasonable accommodation, was fully compensated for overtime, was given first meal breaks, signed waivers for second meal breaks, and voluntarily resigned. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by a teacher alleging that her former employer, a charter school, retaliated against her for complaining about a kindergarten student’s physical battery of the teacher and other students, which she alleged created an unsafe education and work environment. She alleged that following her repeated complaints, the school failed to assist her and eventually retaliated against and terminated her in violation of Labor Code sections 232.5, 1102.5, and 6310. The school alleged that the teacher had the assistance of another teacher and a teacher’s aide in her classroom, that the teacher was unable to cooperate with her colleagues, and that the student in question was eventually provided with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for his learning disability. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by an executive assistant alleging that her former employer, a film production company and its owner, created a hostile work environment in which she encountered sexual harassment from the owner and third parties, failed to prevent such harassment, wrongfully terminated her in violation of public policy, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her. The employer denied these claims, alleging instead that this sole employee was frequently absent or tardy, failed to perform her job while owner was working out of the country, changed passwords to prevent the employer’s access to electronic files, and used malware to remove proprietary information from the company’s computer system. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Three individual actions by a septuagenarian and two sexagenarian sales professionals in the auto industry alleging that their former employer, the new owner of an auto dealership, discriminated against them on the basis of their age, retaliated against them for complaining, failed to prevent discrimination from occurring, wrongfully demoted, terminated or constructively terminated them in violation of public policy and an implied employment agreement. The dealership alleged that it terminated the employees for legitimate business reasons, because they refused or failed to implement the company’s business plan during the COVID-19 pandemic’s downturn and supply chain challenges. Resolved globally on continued mediation by mediator’s proposal.

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  • Action by business development director alleging that her former employer, a cyber security company, discriminated against and harassed her on the basis of her high-risk pregnancy, retaliated against her for taking pregnancy leave followed by CFRA leave, did not engage in the interactive process or reasonably accommodate her disability, and wrongfully terminated her on the day after she returned from CFRA leave. The company alleged that it terminated the employee for her poor performance and toxic personality. Resolved following mediation.

  • Action by musician alleging that his employer, an orchestra, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate him, because his disability prevented him from abiding with the orchestra’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Orchestra alleged that the musician failed to submit doctor’s notes sufficient to meet exemptions under its mandate. Resolved post-mediation by mediator's proposal.

 

  • Action by an eight-year non-exempt shift manager alleging that her former employer, a fast-food franchisee that had taken over an existing franchise, violated the FEHA by failing to accommodate her disability, failing to engage in the interactive process, violated the CFRA by failing to provide her with leave for her own serious health condition, interfered with such leave, and retaliated against her for taking leave, contravened wage and hour laws, wrongfully terminated her, and engaged in unlawful business practices. Employer alleged that shift manager was not eligible for CFRA/FMLA leave, because she had not accumulated 1250 work hours under the new entity. Even though the business was identical to the former franchise, all employees were retained without having to reapply for their jobs, performed the same duties, and received the same pay, employer claimed shift manager was not entitled to carry over her accumulated 1250 hours from the old to the new regime. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by a construction worker alleging that his former employer, a general contractor, violated the FEHA’s disability discrimination and harassment provisions, retaliated against him, failed to engage in the interactive process, failed to reasonably accommodate him, failed to provide him with CFRA leave, retaliated against him for requesting CFRA leave, retaliated against him for being a whistleblower, negligently hired, supervised and retained his supervisor, and wrongfully terminated him in violation of public policy. He also alleged the employer violated wage-and-hour laws including meal and rest breaks, minimum wage, final wages, wage statements, waiting time, and business reimbursements. The general contractor alleged that it was not an employer under the FEHA because it had fewer than five employees, that the worker had never complained about having a disability, and that any wage-and-hour violations were technical. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by administrative assistant alleging that her former employer, a cemetery district, and its manager created a hostile work environment in which she was sexually harassed, discriminated against because of her gender, and retaliated against for reporting the unwelcome sexual advance, that she was constructively terminated in violation of public policy, that the employer negligently and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her, and breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The employer denied these claims, alleging instead that the administrative assistant was under investigation for wage theft. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by teacher alleging that his former employer, a school, had failed to take adequate steps to prevent harassment and discrimination from occurring, and that he had experienced harassment and discrimination on the basis of his race and gender from both students and staff members. Teacher resigned and rejected the severance pay offered by the school. After investigating his complaints, the school found teacher’s allegations to be without merit and not actionable. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by staff member alleging that her employer, a seminary, and its leadership violated the FEHA by sexually harassing, discriminating, and retaliating against her, failed to prevent these violations, battered, assaulted, and committed gender violence against her, and violated the Ralph Civil Rights Act. The seminary and its leadership denied the allegations, claiming that the seminary is a religious nonprofit organization exempt under the FEHA, that any intimate relationship between the parties was consensual, and that the employee had manipulated the leader out of a substantial sum. Resolved on post-mediation follow-up.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by COO alleging that her former employer, a start-up clinical research company, discriminated and harassed her on the basis of race and gender, retaliated against her for having taken pregnancy and disability leave, and for being a whistleblower, and wrongfully terminated her in violation of public policy. The company alleged that it had fully accommodated COO on her pregnancy and disability leave, and that business necessity forced the enterprise to restructure the business and layoff many employees, including COO. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by school administrator alleging that her employer, a school district, engaged in sex, race, age, and disability discrimination and harassment, retaliated against her for taking CFRA leave for her own serious health condition, and forced her to quit. Administrator alleged that the principals at two different schools where she was assigned were disrespectful to her, which she perceived to be discriminatory. School district alleged that it accommodated administrator’s transfer request, that she failed to submit doctor’s notes to support the entirety of her CFRA leave, that she did not engage in a good faith interactive process in anticipation of returning to work, and that she abandoned her job. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by warehouse operations lead alleging that his former employer, a logistics company, engaged in race, disability, and family leave discrimination, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate his disability, retaliated against him for taking CFRA leave, and wrongfully terminated him. The employer alleged that employee failed to submit his leave papers, did not respond to the employer’s queries, and abandoned his job. Resolved on post-mediation follow-up.

 

  • Action by 59-year-old warehouse supervisor with a 32-year tenure alleging that his former employer, a logistics company violated the FEHA by discriminating and harassing him on the basis of his age, and failed to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring. Employer denied any age bias, alleging instead that it terminated the supervisor for his failure to perform. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Arbitration action by 23-year assistant manager alleging that her former employer, a nonprofit corporation, retaliated against her in violation of Labor Code section 1102.5, wrongfully terminated her in violation of public policy, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her. Assistant manager and other employees had become the unwitting victims of a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by a board member of the non-profit’s foundation and by a high-level executive, losing her life savings. The matter was investigated by the FBI and IRS. When assistant manager and other employees filed a civil action against the nonprofit for its role in the fraud, employer terminated assistant manager. Employer alleged that it was not responsible for the Ponzi scheme, and that assistant manager was terminated for poor performance. Resolved by mediator’s proposal following second mediation.

  • Action by wastewater operator alleging that her former employer, a water district, engaged in sex, disability, pregnancy, and family leave discrimination, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate her disability, created a hostile work environment that enabled sexual harassment, retaliated against her after she complained, was negligent in hiring and supervising its staff, and wrongfully terminated her. The employer alleged that the operator was let go as an at-will employee during her probationary period. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

  • Action by former driver, alleging that his former employer, a  package delivery company, discriminated and retaliated against him for taking family leave during the COVID-19 epidemic to protect his child’s serious congenital heart condition, failed to engage in the interactive process, did not reasonably accommodate him, did not take action to prevent discrimination, violated wage-and-hour laws, and wrongfully terminated him. Employer alleged that it had fully complied with wage-and-hour laws, that it had repeatedly accommodated driver, and that it had granted him family leave, but that driver had failed to submit a doctor’s note to extend his leave or to return to work when his leave period expired. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by delivery driver alleging that her former employer, a logistics company, and her former supervisor violated the FEHA by engaging in sex discrimination, quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment, sexual assault and battery, disability discrimination, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate her back disability, intentionally and negligently inflicted emotional distress upon her, negligently hired and supervised her supervisor, violated the Bane Act, retaliated against her under Labor Code section 1102.5, and wrongfully terminated her in violation of public policy. Employer denied these claims, and asserted that driver had agreed to arbitration. Employer further alleged that driver was terminated because she was unable to safely perform the essential functions of her job on account of her narcolepsy. Moreover, employer and supervisor claimed poverty. Resolved by mediator’s proposal on this and a companion PAGA class action.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by a staff member alleging that her former employer, a non-profit organization providing adult developmental services, discriminated against and harassed her on the basis of her disability, retaliated against her for complaining, failed to prevent discrimination, breached her employment contract, wrongfully terminated her in violation of public policy, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her. Staff member had notified HR and taken off four days for a sinus infection, consulted a doctor, and returned to work afterwards. Staff member and her supervisor had exchanged texts about her expected return date. Employer alleged that it terminated staff member for no call/no show absence. Resolved following mediation.

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  • Action by journeyman alleging that his former employer, a logistics company, had engaged in the fraud of intentional misrepresentation and false promises, and in wrongful adverse employment action against him during the COVID-19 pandemic. He alleged that COVID-screening procedures caused him to log in late. When the company investigated and found more irregularities, it advised journeyman to resign with the promise of no bar on future rehire. When journeyman later applied for an opening, he was ineligible for rehire. Employer alleged that journeyman had voluntarily resigned after an investigation showed that he was dishonest and had falsified his timecards during the pandemic. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by African-American cook alleging that his former employer, a hospitality group, failed to prevent harassment from occurring when co-workers repeatedly used the “N” word and other racial epithets in his presence. When he complained to a supervisor, allegedly no corrective action took place. Instead, cook alleged that employer retaliated against him with a performance improvement plan. Cook further alleged that employer violated wage and hour laws. Cook ultimately felt forced to quit. Employer denied these allegations, except for one incident when the “N” word was used by a co-worker at a company-sponsored off-site event, after which the co-worker was disciplined. Resolved by mediator’s proposal following mediation.

 

  • Action by recruiter alleging that his former employer, a hospital group, discriminated against him on the basis of disability, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate him on his cardiac condition, retaliated against him, and wrongfully terminated him. Employer alleged that it engaged in the interactive process and reasonably accommodated recruiter with two leave requests. Employer allegedly terminated recruiter for failing to maintain the confidentiality of job searches, which caused embarrassment and confusion. The parties initially stipulated to arbitration. When employer was untimely in paying arbitration fees within 30 days in contravention of Code Civ. Proc. § 1281.97, the matter was remanded to Superior Court. Employer then appealed the ruling to the Court of Appeal. Resolved globally by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by warehouse worker alleging that his former employer, a health care solutions company, discriminated against him on the basis of disability and age, failed to engage in the interactive process and to reasonably accommodate him, retaliated against him, failed to prevent discrimination under the FEHA, negligently inflicted emotional distress upon him, and wrongfully terminated him. Employer alleged that it had engaged in the interactive process and reasonably accommodated worker with over two years of indefinite leave, and that he was unable to perform the essential function of his job of lifting 50 pounds with or without an accommodation. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by 20-year, part-time courier alleging that his former employer, a delivery company, discriminated against him on the bases of race, national origin, disability and age; failed to engage in the interactive process; failed to reasonably accommodate him; retaliated against him; wrongfully terminated him in violation of the FEHA; and engaged in unfair business practices. The company alleged that it terminated courier for falsifying his time card for time not worked. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by company alleging that its founder, chairperson of its board of directors, and former CEO breached her employment contract, violated trade secrets, breached her duty of loyalty, and breached payment of her promissory note. Founder counterclaimed alleging that company discriminated against her on the basis of gender, failed to prevent sex discrimination, retaliated against her after she complained, wrongfully terminated her in violation of public policy, violated her right of publicity, and misappropriated her name and likeness. Resolved following mediation.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by bartender alleging that her former employer, an airport bar, failed to prevent a hostile work environment created by co-workers and supervisors, refused to transfer her to another establishment, retaliated against her for complaining, failed to accommodate her anxiety and lactation needs, committed wage and hour violations, violated Cal-OSHA guidelines, intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her, and constructively terminated her. Employer denied the allegations, claiming that bartender failed to report these allegations until after she voluntarily resigned, and that its follow-up investigation found bartender’s allegations to be without merit. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action in the pre-pandemic era by an 18-year marketing and communications executive alleging that her former employer, a private hospital group, breached her implied contract and implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, discriminated against her for her physical disability, failed to engage in the interactive process, and failed to reasonably accommodate her driving restrictions. Determining that executive could not perform the essential function of her job with or without an accommodation, hospital group terminated her. Hospital group also alleged that executive took family trips for recreational activities that exceeded her work and driving restrictions. Resolved following mediation.

 

  • Action by assembler alleging that his former employer, a sheet metal fabrication and component manufacturer, discriminated against him on the basis of disability, failed to engage in the interactive process, failed to reasonably accommodate him, retaliated against him, and wrongfully terminated him in violation of the FEHA. The manufacturer alleged that it engaged in the interactive process and reasonably accommodated assembler when he was injured, reassigned him temporarily to light duty, and accommodated his request for leave. However, when manufacturer lost a major client, it was forced to lay off some employees, including assembler, who had been released to return to work. Resolved following mediation.

 

  • Action by 29-year supervisor alleging that her former employer, a shipping and package delivery business, discriminated against her on the basis of disability, age and sex, failed to engage in the interactive process and to reasonably accommodate her, created a hostile work environment, failed to prevent discrimination and harassment, interfered with her CFRA leave rights, retaliated against her for taking protected leave, and wrongfully terminated her. Employer alleged that supervisor had falsified scanning records, that she had falsely given work credit to a relative who also worked for employer, and had retired voluntarily. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by salesperson alleging that her former employer, a medical technologies provider, discriminated against her for her life-long speech and language disability, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate her, failed to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliated against her for complaining, wrongfully terminated her, failed to pay for her earned commission, and committed various PAGA violations. Employer denied these allegations, claiming instead that salesperson was let go for under performance. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by three long-time workers alleging that their former employer, a uniform and apparel company, discriminated, harassed, and retaliated against them on the bases of disability, national origin, sex, association with others with disability, and for having taken family and parental leave, that employer failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate them, and that it wrongfully terminated them. Employer alleged the economic downturn during the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to implement reductions in force that impacted many employees, including these workers. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by former account executive alleging that his former employer, an online debit collection business, engaged in fraud, promissory estoppel, breach of contract, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, and unlawful business practices. When executive was laid off and accepted a severance agreement, employer agreed to pay for executive’s COBRA premiums for six months or until he received coverage with a new job. However, employer did not pay for the premiums, and executive paid for the premiums out of his own pocket. Employer alleged that a clerical error caused unintended delay on paying the premiums, that employer reimbursed executive when he filed suit, and that executive failed to inform employer when he received coverage after he was hired for a new job. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-arbitration action by executive director alleging that her former employer, a for-profit vocational university, engaged in age and gender discrimination, terminated her for being a whistleblower in violation of Labor Code section 1102.5, breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and defamed her reputation. Employer denied these claims, alleging that it terminated director for violating the university’s policy. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-arbitration action by director of nursing alleging that her former employer, a for-profit college, interfered with or unlawfully denied her protected leave in violation of CFRA when she took time off to care for her cancer-stricken stepfather, retaliated against and wrongfully terminated her for taking leave, engaged in unfair business practices, and committed other violations. College alleged the defenses of mixed motive and the business judgment rule. Resolved through mediation. 

 

  • Action by 12-year operations supervisor alleging that his former employer, a waste service, discriminated and retaliated against him for being associated with a disabled person, and failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate him under the FEHA when he took protected family leave to care for his son, who underwent surgery and chemotherapy for a cancerous brain tumor. Company denied these claims, alleging instead that supervisor was terminated for unsatisfactory job performance. Resolved on follow up by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by two siblings alleging that their former employer, a labeling company, had discriminated against brother for his disability after he tested positive for COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic, discriminated against sister because she was associated with brother, failed to engage in the interactive process, failed to provide reasonable accommodation, failed to prevent discrimination, and wrongfully terminated them. Employer denied these charges, alleging instead that the siblings, who had worked there for decades, had violated company policy. Brother had dropped off lunch for a co-worker at the company parking lot before he learned of his positive COVID test results. Sister had  left work early, refused to sign a warning for allegedly failing to report brother’s condition before she knew he had COVID, and took days off for illness without prior approval. Resolved on follow up by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-arbitration action by 14-year supply operator alleging that his former employer, an organ and tissue donation group, discriminated against him on the basis of disability, national origin, and race, failed to engage in the interactive process, failed to reasonably accommodate him, and retaliated against him for taking CFRA and disability leave. Employer alleged that it had reasonably accommodated employee’s disability by granting him CFRA leave, and extending his disability leave under a personal leave. However, immediately before employee could return to work without any restrictions, employer reorganized and eliminated employee’s job, sent him a letter of termination, and advised him to look for open positions on employer’s Web site. Resolved by mediator’s proposal following mediation.

  • Action by teller alleging that his former employer, a bank, discriminated against him on the basis of his disability after he was injured in an auto accident, failed to engage in the interactive process, retaliated against him for taking CFRA leave, failed to prevent discrimination, negligently supervised his supervisors, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress against him. Bank alleged that it had engaged in the interactive process and fully accommodated teller, that his performance was a concern, and that he was laid off along with many other employees in a reduction-in-force for legitimate business reasons. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by a part-time sales associate alleging that her former employer, a retail store, violated the FEHA by discriminating against and harassing her because of her race, failed to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliated against her when she complained about selective enforcement of the dress code and insufficient training, constructively terminated her, violated public policy by virtue of the above, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her. Employer alleged that it had immediately addressed sales associate’s concerns, was ready to train employee on various skills, including theft prevention by customers, when associate voluntarily resigned and confirmed her decision upon follow-up by employer. Resolved following mediation.

 

  • Action by manager alleging that her former employer, a bank, engaged in FEHA disability discrimination, failed to engage in the interactive process, did not reasonably accommodate her, retaliated against her for complaining, wrongfully terminated her, intentionally and negligently inflicted emotional distress upon her, and interfered with her prospective economic benefit. Employer alleged that it had reasonably accommodated manager, that manager had misrepresented her injuries, that she had failed to perform, and that she had lied about her prior termination for misconduct by another employer. Resolved following mediation.

 

  • Action following reversal of summary judgment on appeal by 25-year administrator alleging that her former employer, a university, violated the FEHA by discriminating against and harassing her on the basis of her gender and age, and by retaliating against her for complaining. The administrator alleged that her dean bypassed her for promotion, and instead appointed younger, less qualified candidates whom he favored. The candidate who was promoted allegedly determined that job vacancies should be filled by “younger” candidates, easing out long-time employees, including the administrator. When the administrator complained, her responsibilities were removed such that she felt obsolete and felt compelled to resign. The university denied these claims and alleged that the complaint was untimely filed. The trial court granted summary judgment for the university. The Court of Appeal reversed and remanded. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by maintenance technician alleging that his former employer, a pharmaceutical company, violated the FEHA by discriminating against and harassing him on the basis of his national origin (Vietnamese American), by retaliating against him for complaining, by failing to provide a workplace free of discrimination, and by failing to engage in a good faith interactive process, and further that his employer wrongfully terminated him in violation of public policy and in contravention of his implied employment contract. Employer alleged that the technician was dishonest in reporting that he had spent two hours on inspecting a cleanroom, when access badge records showed he spent only four minutes on the task. As a result, the cleanroom was found to be soaked with leaked water, which led to technician’s termination. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-arbitration action by former production supervisor alleging that his former employer, an aerospace components manufacturer, wrongfully terminated him, discriminated against him on the basis of his sleep apnea disability and age when his shift was changed, harassed and retaliated against him after he complained, failed to provide a workplace free from the alleged unlawful acts, and denied him reasonable accommodation. Employer alleged that it was not notified of employee’s sleep apnea disability, but nonetheless moved him back to his original shift for production reasons. It further alleged that employee was eventually laid off, along with many other employees, in a reduction-in-force for legitimate business reasons. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-arbitration action by former employee alleging that her former employer, a pharmaceutical company, failed to prevent interference with her California Family Rights Act (CFRA) leave when it first granted her such protected leave, but then terminated her immediately before her surgery. Former employee also alleged the business engaged in disability discrimination, failed to engage in the interactive process, created a hostile work environment, intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her, failed to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliated against her under Labor Code sections 6310 and 1102.5, and wrongfully terminated her. Employer alleged that plaintiff was terminated for having double labeled one vial of medication and for two prior mislabeling errors. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by truck driver alleging that his former employer, a composite materials and technical solutions supplier, wrongfully terminated, discriminated, harassed and retaliated against him, and denied him a workplace free from discrimination. During the COVID-19 pandemic, driver had requested for and employer accommodated his request for reduced work hours, so that he could care for his young children, who were home for remote learning when schools closed.  Driver alleged he was terminated because of retaliation for taking leave. Employer alleged it terminated employee for dishonesty in forging a delivery receipt, leaving hazardous material in an alley rather than within the secure gated compound of a client, and driving on a street where trucks were barred that led to a citation. Resolved by mediator's proposal.

 

  • Action by former employee alleging that her former employer, an investment business (founded by her late spouse to whom she was divorced), was negligent per se in failing to protect her from workplace injury she experienced in a robbery committed in its parking lot, fraudulently concealed its failure to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, and committed the tort of conversion when it failed to return all her personal possessions after employee left her job. Employer alleged that the parking lot crime committed by third parties was not reasonably foreseeable in the office’s quiet and low-crime residential neighborhood, that it had not concealed its workers compensation insurance status, and that all of employee’s personal possessions had been returned to her. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by 30-year stationary engineer alleging that his former employer, a hospital, discriminated against and harassed him on the basis of age and disability, failed to reasonably accommodate him, retaliated against him for requesting accommodations, failed to prevent discrimination from occurring, and wrongfully terminated him in violation of public policy. Hospital alleged that it had granted CFRA leave followed by two years of extended disability leave for engineer to undergo knee surgery, amputation, and fitting of his prosthetic leg. Although engineer returned to work without restrictions. he was unable to perform the essential functions of his job with or without an accommodation in climbing tall ladders, pulling, pushing, squatting and responding to emergencies, thereby posing a danger to himself and to others. Hospital provided to engineer open positions that he could have performed, but he failed to apply for them, and was ultimately terminated. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by an emergency room nurse alleging that her employer, a county hospital, violated the FEHA by discriminating against her for her pregnancy and disability, failed to reasonably accommodate her and engage in the interactive process, retaliated against her, failed to prevent discrimination, and interfered with her CFRA leave. Employer alleged that nurse was fully accommodated for her pregnancy and disability, but her doctor’s work restriction that she not lift any weight meant that she could not perform the essential functions of her job with or without an accommodation. Resolved on follow-up after mediation.

 

  • Pre-arbitration action by visually-impaired director of payroll operations alleging that his former employer, a hospital, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonably accommodate him, discriminated and retaliated against him for taking CFRA and disability leave, and failed to prevent discrimination and retaliation from occurring. The hospital alleged that it had engaged in the interactive process with the director, granted his intermittent leave requests for treatment, granted his request for his CFRA leave, and reasonably accommodated him by extending his disability leave thereafter. Even though director never returned to work, failed to provide an updated health report, and failed to mitigate his damages, hospital nonetheless kept director active on the books. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by director of philanthropy alleging that her former employer, a church-affiliated senior residential facility, retaliated against and constructively terminated her for being a whistleblower.  Accessing senior residents’ financial information, the facility required its fundraisers to persuade the seniors to sign declarations bequeathing their assets to the facility. When philanthropy director raised concerns and reported about possible elder financial abuse, facility allegedly retaliated against her and forced her out. Facility denied these allegations, claiming instead that employee failed to perform and voluntarily resigned. Resolved by mediator’s proposal. 

 

  • Action by 17-year echocardiography technician alleging that his former employer, a hospital, discriminated against him on the basis of age, race, and disability, failed to engage in the interactive process, failed to reasonably accommodate him, and wrongfully terminated him in violation of the FEHA. Hospital alleged that some of technician’s claims, which had undergone three years of union grievances, were time barred even after tolling, that his claims were without merit, that doctors and patients had complained about technician, and that he was terminated following progressive discipline for performance and communication issues. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by seamstress alleging that her employer, a uniform and apparel company, discriminated against and harassed her on the basis of her disability and age, created a hostile work environment, failed to reasonably accommodate her or engage in the interactive process, failed to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliated against her, violated meal and rest breaks, and engaged in unfair business practices. Employer alleged that seamstress was fully accommodated for her disability, that she had taken a three-year leave but remained on the books, and that her complaints were not substantiated by the company’s investigation.  Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by service mechanic alleging that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, his former employer, an elevator company, violated the FEHA by discriminating and retaliating against him for his underlying medical condition of asthma and diabetes; failed to prevent discrimination, engage in the interactive process or reasonably accommodate him; and wrongfully terminated him. Employer alleged that mechanic took advantage of the pandemic by electing to take a voluntary furlough under a collective bargaining agreement, and by collecting disability payment benefits. Employer alleged mechanic did not request for protected leave, failed to provide a doctor’s note for any work restrictions, and was never terminated. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by food service workers alleging that their employer, a donut shop, discriminated against and harassed them on the basis of their national origin, created a hostile work environment, retaliated against them when they complained, failed to prevent discrimination and harassment in violation of the FEHA, wrongfully terminated them, violated wage-and-hour laws, and engaged in various torts. Employer denied these allegations, conceding only on the wage-and-hour violations. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by operations superintendent alleging that his former employer, a solid waste collection company, discriminated, harassed and retaliated against him under the FEHA by refusing to transfer him to a different city to take care for his father who had cancer, because employee was associated with a family member who had a disability/medical condition; failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonable accommodation under the FEHA; and failed to prevent discrimination and harassment under the FEHA; as well as wrongfully terminated him in violation of public policy. Employer alleged that the company had engaged in the interactive process and had offered to reasonably accommodated employee with intermittent leave. However, employee never formally applied for a transfer.  Even if he did, employee was ineligible for a transfer because he was continuously on performance improvement plans.  Employer ultimately terminated employee for poor performance. Resolved following mediation.

 

  • Appeal by general manager after the trial court sustained demurrers on various counts and removed co-defendants on his race employment discrimination action. General manager alleged that his former employer, a production company, violated the FEHA by discriminating against him on the basis of race, retaliated against him after he filed his DFEH complaints, breached his employment contract, and wrongfully terminated him in violation of public policy. Employer denied the charges, alleging that general manager had bullied employees in violation of company policy, and that customers had complained about his performance. Resolved globally in both the appellate and trial courts by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by food service worker alleging that another food service worker sexually harassed and battered her at the hospital where they both worked. She alleged that the hospital negligently hired the other worker, failed to prevent the harassment, retaliated against her when she complained, intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her, and constructively terminated her. The hospital alleged that any harassment was between co-workers, and that the hospital immediately conducted a thorough investigation when notified of the worker’s complaint, that the investigative report found no harassment had occurred, and that worker resigned of her own accord. Resolved following mediation.

 

  • Action by warehouse worker alleging that his former employer, a wholesaler, violated the FEHA by discriminating and retaliating against him for his disability after he was severely injured in an auto accident, failed to engage in the interactive process, failed to reasonably accommodate him, and wrongfully terminated him during his disability leave. Employer alleged that it had reasonably accommodated employee after his injury, that employee could not perform the essential functions of his job with or without an accommodation, and that employee was laid off during COVID-19’s stay-at-home order. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by a police officer alleging that his employer, a county, and its law enforcement officers violated his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, and alleged County was liable under Monell. When officer and his spouse alleged mutual spousal abuse, law enforcement arrested them both and seized weapons from the home, social services removed their child, and the dependency court placed the child with a family member for many months. At the same time, officer was suspended for a short while, was required to enroll in various preventative courses, and was ineligible for promotion for a time. County alleged that it complied with all applicable constitutional authorities, statutory provisions, and institutional protocol in light of the situation. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by makeup artist, an independent contractor to a studio, alleging that its employee sexually assaulted and harassed her in violation of the FEHA, Unruh, Ralph and Bane Civil Rights Acts, as well as alleging negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The studio executive to whom contractor twice confided failed to report the incident in violation of company policy. Human resources finally learned about the incident, investigated, terminated employee, and disciplined the executive. However, the union that represented employee contested his termination through labor arbitration. Finding credibility issues, the arbitrator ordered the studio to reinstate the alleged perpetrator. In the civil action, studio alleged that contractor had earlier signed an agreement to release it from liability, and asserted that the action was time barred. Based on the arbitrator’s findings, both studio and employee challenged contractor’s credibility. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by 21-year truck driver alleging that his former employer, a water and wastewater treatment solutions provider, allowed its employees to engage in reverse race and national origin discrimination against the driver, failed to engage him in the interactive process or provide him with reasonable accommodation, did not prevent retaliation against him, wrongfully terminated him, engaged in meal and rest break violations, and engaged in unfair competition. Employer denied knowledge of any co-worker discrimination against driver, alleging that he never complained to management. Company also alleged that it reasonably accommodated driver’s disability by granting him both workers’ compensation and CFRA/FMLA leave, which was exhausted. Moreover, the permanent work restrictions ordered by employee’s doctor meant that driver could not perform the essential functions of his job with or without an accommodation. As a result, employee voluntarily resigned. Resolved after mediation.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by a technician alleging that his former employer, a pharmaceutical company, engaged in FEHA reverse race discrimination and harassment, same-sex sexual harassment, retaliation, negligent hiring, medical leave retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful termination. Employer denied any wrongful conduct, alleging that other similarly situated employees did not suffer discrimination, harassment or retaliation. Company further alleged that it neither knew nor should have known about any such alleged co-worker conduct, because technician failed to complain to the company. Instead, plaintiff did not provide the necessary paperwork for taking weeks of disability leave, and he voluntarily resigned. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by insulator alleging that his former employer, an industrial refrigeration company, discriminated and retaliated against him for his disability and age in violation of the FEHA, did not engage in the interactive process and reasonable accommodation, failed to prevent discrimination, failed to grant him CFRA leave, breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and wrongfully termination him. Company alleged that insulator had worked nine months for employer, and was not eligible for CFRA leave. The day insulator was seriously injured in a non-work-related car accident was the same day the Governor issued a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While employer granted insulator’s reasonable accommodation request for six-weeks’ unpaid leave, employee instead elected to be laid-off (along with other employees) for COVID-19, so that he could benefit from both regular unemployment and supplemental COVID-19 unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. While employee received COBRA health insurance coverage information, he failed to apply for COBRA and the policy offer lapsed. Meanwhile, employee’s hospital bills mounted and he was forced to file for bankruptcy to discharge his debts. Resolved in mediation.

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