Sinatra v. Chico Unified School Dist., 119 Cal. App. 4th 701 (2004)

Charles F. Sinatra, a former assistant principal at Chico High School, alleged wrongful termination in violation of the public policy purportedly embodied in California Education Code § 44922, which permits a school district to allow older, full-time employees to work part time without jeopardizing their retirement and health care benefits. Sinatra alleged that the school district had violated the public policy represented by the statute by failing to offer him a part-time position. The Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment in favor of the school district on the ground that the statute “does not embody the kind of universal and important right recognized as fundamental to the public good.” Cf. Central Laborers’ Pension Fund v. Heinz, 541 U.S. 739 (2004) (ERISA’s “anticutback” provision prohibits an amendment to a pension plan that expands the categories of post-retirement employment that would trigger suspension of previously accrued early-retirement benefits).