California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Retaliation

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November 2023 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2023 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Company That Hired Competitor’s Employee Was Not Entitled To Arbitrate Claims Disability Discrimination Claim Was Properly Dismissed On Summary Judgment Employee’s Attorney’s “Pervasive Incivility” Justified … Continue Reading

Lawyer-Investigators Recover Attorneys’ Fees Following Successful Anti-SLAPP Motion

Ross v. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, 96 Cal. App. 5th 722 (2023) Plaintiff Natalie Operstein was a professor of linguistics at California State University, Fullerton, and plaintiff Craig Ross is her husband. In 2014, the university hired a law firm to investigate multiple accusations Operstein raised to her superiors about three of Operstein’s colleagues. Defendant Colleen Regan, … Continue Reading

In a Surprise Move, California Enacts Boatload of New Pro-Employer Laws – Nah, Just Kidding, It’s Going to be More Burdensome than Ever!

In what has become an annual tradition, California – that fabled workers’ paradise on earth – has enacted a slew of new laws that, come January, may keep even the most hearty HR professionals up at night. As we reported earlier this year (here), the California Chamber of Commerce initially identified 11 “Job Killer Bills” … Continue Reading

Principal Of Former Employer Liable Based On Alter Ego Theory

Hacker v. Fabe, 92 Cal. App. 5th 1267 (2023) In 2005, attorney Jacqueline Fabe filed claim for unpaid wages against her employer with the Labor Commissioner.  Her employer then filed a malpractice suit against Fabe, and Fabe in response filed a retaliation suit with the Labor Commissioner.  Fabe and the Labor Commissioner later won on … Continue Reading

Court Affirms $7.1 Million Whistleblower Verdict

Zirpel v. Alki David Prods., Inc., 93 Cal. App. 5th 563 (2023) Karl Zirpel worked as the vice president of operations for Alki David Productions (“ADP”) before the principal of ADP, Alki David, fired him for allegedly disclosing information that Zirpel reasonably believed evidenced a violation of safety standards and for disclosing information about ADP’s … Continue Reading

July 2023 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted July 2023 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Enforcement of PAGA Carve Out Suggests Need For New Revisions To Arbitration Agreements PAGA Debt Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy Distributors Not Liable For Unpaid Wages Of … Continue Reading

Statute Prohibits Employer Retaliation For Report Of Unlawful Activity Even If It’s Already Known To Employer

People ex rel. Garcia-Brower v. Kolla’s, Inc., 14 Cal. 5th 719 (2023) The California Supreme Court has held that an employee who makes a whistleblower complaint to his or her employer may bring a retaliation claim under the whistleblower statute (Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5(b)) even if the subject of the complaint was already known to … Continue Reading

AI is Here and So Are the New AI Rules for Employers

California is considering a new law (Assembly Bill 331), also known as the Automated Decision Systems Accountability Act.  Modeled after the Biden Administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights (whitehouse.gov), AB 331 would control the use of machine-based systems in making “consequential” employment decisions such as compensation, promotions, hiring, termination, and automated task allocations. … Continue Reading

March 2023 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted March 2023 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: No Claim By Employee Who Was Friends With Alleged Harasser Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit Was Properly Dismissed Employer That Failed To Layoff Employee Before She Became … Continue Reading

No Claim By Employee Who Was Friends With Alleged Harasser

Atalla v. Rite Aid Corp., 2023 WL 2521909 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Hanin Atalla and Erik Lund had a social relationship and became “close friends” before Atalla began working at Rite Aid where Lund worked as a district manager/district leader. Atalla and her husband socialized with Lund and his wife, and Atalla and Lund exchanged … Continue Reading

November 2022 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2022 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Equal Pay Act Claim Should Not Have Been Dismissed Whistleblower Claim Should Not Have Been Dismissed In Part School District Employee May Have Been Discriminated … Continue Reading

Employer Waived Right To Arbitration By Failing To Timely Pay Arbitration Fees

Espinoza v. Superior Court, 83 Cal. App. 5th 761 (2022) Rosa M. Quincoza Espinoza sued her former employer, Centinela Skilled Nursing & Wellness Centre West, LLC, for discrimination and retaliation.  The employer filed a motion to stay the litigation and compel arbitration, invoking the terms of an arbitration agreement that Espinoza had signed.  After the … Continue Reading

School District Employee May Have Been Discriminated Against On The Basis Of A Disability

Price v. Victor Valley Union High Sch. Dist., 2022 WL 16845113 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022) La Vonya Price worked as a part-time substitute special education aide at the Victor Valley Unified School District before applying for a full-time position.  Although she received an offer for a full-time position, it was contingent upon her passing a … Continue Reading

Whistleblower Claim Should Not Have Been Dismissed In Part

Killgore v. SpecPro Prof’l Servs., LLC, 51 F.4th 973 (9th Cir. 2022) While consulting for an environmental project for the United States Army Reserve Command, Aaron Killgore believed he was being required to prepare an environmental assessment in a manner that violated federal law. Killgore was fired shortly after he reported the suspected illegality to … Continue Reading

Equal Pay Act Claim Should Not Have Been Dismissed

Allen v. Staples, Inc., 84 Cal. App. 5th 188 (2022) Joyce Allen worked at Staples as a field sales director (FSD) reporting to area sales vice president Bruce Trahey; FSD Charles R. Narlock also reported to Trahey.  As part of a corporate reorganization in February 2019, Trahey informed Allen and several other FSDs of his … Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit Adopts Broad View of Whistleblower Retaliation Claim under the California Whistleblower Protection Act

In the continuously evolving whistleblower retaliation standard we previously reported on earlier this year here and here, the Ninth Circuit has now weighed in on California Labor Code section 1102.5 in Killgore v. Specpro Pro. Serv., LLC, No. 21-15897. In holding that a consultant on an environmental project for the U.S. Army Reserve Command raised … Continue Reading

October 2022 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted October 2022 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Hollywood Producer Is Not Liable For Drowning Death Of Executive Assistant Employer May Not Inquire Into Former Employee’s Immigration Status Workers’ Comp Determination Does Not Govern … Continue Reading

Workers’ Comp Determination Does Not Govern Outcome Of Discrimination Case

Kaur v. Foster Poultry Farms LLC, 2022 WL 4243090 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022) Gurdip Kaur sued her former employer, Foster Farms, for discrimination based on disability and race/national origin, retaliation and violation of the whistleblower statute (Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5).  Prior to filing this lawsuit, Kaur filed a petition against Foster Farms with the … Continue Reading

Employer May Not Inquire Into Former Employee’s Immigration Status

Manuel v. Superior Court, 82 Cal. App. 5th 719 (2022) Rigoberto Jose Manuel sued his former employer, BrightView Landscape Services, Inc., for wrongful termination after he was injured on the job.  Manuel alleged his employment was terminated in retaliation for his job injury; BrightView asserted that Manuel failed to return to work due to federal … Continue Reading

July 2022 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted July 2022 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Summary Judgment Was Properly Granted To Employer In Whistleblower Case Job Applicants Need Not Be Paid For Time/Expenses Associated With Drug Testing Employer May Have … Continue Reading

Summary Judgment Was Properly Granted To Employer In Whistleblower Case

Vatalaro v. County of Sacramento, 2022 WL 1775708 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022) Cynthia J. Vatalaro sued the county for a violation of Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5, alleging that the county illegally retaliated against her after she reported that she was working below her service classification, which she believed evidenced a violation of the law. … Continue Reading

Despite Employee-Friendly Test, California Court of Appeal Finds in Favor of Employer in Whistleblower Retaliation Claim

As we reported here, earlier this year, the California Supreme Court confirmed a relaxed standard by which employees can prove whistleblower retaliation under Labor Code section 1102.5 in Lawson v. PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc., 12 Cal. 5th 703 (2022).  Despite the newly affirmed and extremely high burden for employers to prevail against Section 1102.5 claims … Continue Reading

L.A. Jury Delivers Mother of All Verdicts – $464 Million to Two Employees!

As we have previously reported, jury verdicts in employment cases have continued to skyrocket in recent months, and there is no sign they are leveling off. Late last week, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded a total of over $464 million ($440 million of which was in punitive damages) in a two-plaintiff retaliation case. … Continue Reading

Several State “Job Killer” Bills Move One Step Closer to Passage

As covered previously here, the California Chamber of Commerce (“Chamber”) once again has identified a handful of “job killer” bills making their way through the legislative process.  This year’s crop of proposed legislation would, among other things, inflate employer data reporting requirements and further expand the scope of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).  … Continue Reading
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