In Bustos v. Global P.E.T., Inc., (E065869, Cal. Ct. App. January 16, 2018), Plaintiff William Bustos and a number of his co-workers were terminated by Global in an economic layoff.  Bustos sued Global alleging his disabilities were a substantial motivating reason for his termination.

At trial, the jury awarded Bustos nothing, although the jury

Overturning a trial court ruling, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held that teacher tenure laws are constitutional in the case of Vergara v. State of California, decided April 14, 2016.

The case involves nine public school students who challenged several provisions of California’s Education Code that govern K-12 public school teachers’ employment. The basis of the challenge is that the tenure, dismissal, and layoff laws result in grossly ineffective teachers being transferred to lower-performing schools with predominantly minority and low-income populations, rather than being terminated; and that; therefore, those students receive an inferior education.  Several associations representing school boards, school superintendents, and school administrators filed amicus briefs in support of the students’ position that the laws are unconstitutional.
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In a unanimous decision, a California Court of Appeal held that an employee is not required to exhaust his or her administrative remedies by filing a complaint with the Labor Commissioner before commencing a civil action under California Labor Code sections 98.7 and 6312. Sheridan v. Touchstone Television Productions, LLC, No. B254489 (Cal. Ct. App. Oct. 20, 2015).
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An employer is prohibited from retaliating against an employee who makes a complaint to a government or law enforcement agency under California law.

Labor Code section 1102.5(b), for example, makes it unlawful for a hospital to terminate a nurse because the nurse complained about a doctor to the Medical Board. It also would be unlawful for an airline to terminate a pilot who reported potential violations of regulations to the Federal Aviation Administration. These are classic “whistleblower” situations, where an employee complains about the conduct of his or her employer.  However, a recent case, Cardenas v. M. Fanaian, DDS, Inc., has held that the reach of section 1102.5(b) is not so limited, but applies to matters unrelated to the employer’s compliance with law in operating its business, such as employee reports to law enforcement involving personal matters.
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A depressed employee who was fired for threatening to kill his co-workers was not a qualified individual entitled to protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the employee could not perform essential job functions, with or without an accommodation, a federal appeals court in San Francisco has ruled, affirming judgment in favor of the employer. Mayo v. PCC Structurals, Inc., No. 13-35643 (9th Cir. July 28, 2015). The Ninth Circuit has jurisdiction over Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
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In a recent Ninth Circuit decision, the court held that “a piece of evidence [may not be disregarded] at the summary judgment stage solely based on its self-serving nature.” As a result, declarations created after summary judgment motions are filed may be sufficient to create genuine issues of material fact and, therefore, defeat summary judgment. This decision is particularly concerning because it allows a party to thwart summary judgment with little to no credible or corroborated evidence.
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In a recent opinion affirming an arbitrator’s judgment in favor of an employer on various employment law claims, the California Court of Appeal held that an employee agreed to arbitrate all claims against her former employee when she signed an arbitration policy contained in an easy-to-read document distinct from any other document the she signed at the time of her hiring.  In doing so, the Court clarified important aspects of the test for enforcing an arbitration agreement signed by a company’s employees. 
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On December 1, 2014, in Ferrick v. Santa Clara University (H040252), the California Court of Appeal rejected a university employee’s attempt to support her wrongful termination claim with allegations of embezzlement, tax evasion, or other alleged improprieties in public financing and real estate deals.  However, the employee successfully stated a claim for wrongful termination based on her allegation that a supervisor accepted kickbacks for placing university tenants with a private landlord, which provided a reasonable basis for the employee to suspect commercial bribery under Penal Code section 641.3.
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Jim Irving, a former employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District, was fired for falsifying time records on at least four occasions. Irving admitted he did not take his breaks at the locations or at the times specified by his employer, exceeded his allotted break time, and deliberately filled out his time sheets to hide his violations.

Irving filed for unemployment compensation benefits. The Employment Development Department initially granted benefits. However, the Unemployment Appeals Board (“Board”) held an administrative hearing and denied benefits.  The Board found that Irving had been informed when he was hired of the district policy concerning the duration of breaks and where they could be taken. He also signed a written acknowledgement that explained the policy. According to the Board, Irving’s violations were documented by the global positioning system in the trucks he drove for the district. Based on Irving’s admissions and other evidence, the Board concluded that Irving “falsely recording his times and locations for each of the 10 days on the district’s time records.” Consequently, Irving was discharged for “misconduct” that rendered him ineligible for benefits.
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On August 19, 2014, a California Court of Appeal held that the requirements of Labor Code sections 202 and 203 apply not only to employees who quit, but also to employees who retire.  In McLean v. State of California et al., No. C074515 (Cal. Aug. 19, 2014), the plaintiff filed a putative class action lawsuit on behalf of all employees employed by the State of California who retired from their employment between November 2010 and March 2011, who did not receive prompt payment of wages as required by Labor Code section 202.  Among other things, the putative class sought waiting time penalties under Labor Code section 203.  At the trial level, the defendants’ demurrer was sustained without leave to amend because the plain text of Labor Code section 202 requires prompt payment of wages owed only for employees who “quit his or her employment.”  Because the putative class sought penalties for retired employees, the trial court determined that the employer could not have violated Labor Code section 202.  Nevertheless, the Court of Appeal reversed and found that the term “quit” in Labor Code section 202 also encompasses retired employees.
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