Wysinger v. Automobile Club of S. Cal., 157 Cal. App. 4th 413 (2007)

Guy Wysinger, a former district manager for ACSC’s Santa Barbara office, filed a complaint with the EEOC in 1999 in which he alleged that ACSC had discriminated against him on the basis of his age. Thereafter, Wysinger’s work environment changed – he was no longer invited to be on management committees or to apply for management positions; he was treated “coldly” and ignored at management meetings; ACSC ignored requests to accommodate his disabilities (lupus, a heart condition and rheumatoid arthritis); he received unfavorable job evaluations; and staff was transferred from his office, creating a hardship for Wysinger. The jury found that ACSC had retaliated against Wysinger because he had filed the EEOC complaint and that it had failed to engage in the interactive process in connection with Wysinger’s disability – though the jury also found that ACSC had not discriminated against Wysinger on the basis of his disability or his age. The jury awarded Wysinger economic damages of $204,000, non-economic damages of $80,000, and punitive damages of $1 million. In addition, the trial court awarded attorney’s fees to Wysinger in the amount of $978,791. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, holding that substantial evidence supported the finding of retaliation and failure to engage in the interactive process.