California Appeals Court Denies Appeal in Wrongful Termination Case, Affirming Lower Court Decision

In a recent case, the Fourth District Court of Appeals Division 3 in California issued an opinion in an appeal involving a termination dispute between an employer and an employee. The employer, Airborne Systems North America of CA, Inc., terminated the employee after a coworker complained about inappropriate conduct towards her. Following the termination, the employee filed a lawsuit for, inter alia, wrongful employment termination and violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act against Airborne and Airborne’s human resource manager. At trial, judgment was granted in favor of Airborne, and the employee appealed the decision shortly thereafter.

Facts of the Case

In July 2017, the employee exhausted his administrative remedies by filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment Housing alleging that Airborne terminated his employment because of his age and because of his mental disability, resulting from the enormous stress from the hostile work environment. He further alleged in that complaint that during the time he was employed by Airborne he received excellent performance evaluations and maintained a great work record. After being terminated, the person that replaced him was younger and had significantly less experience.

The following year in July 2018, the employee filed a complaint against Airborne and specific individual defendants, making claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, defamation, harassment, retaliation, disability discrimination, race discrimination, age discrimination, marital status discrimination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In August 2019, after several amendments, the employee filed a third amended complaint. In December 2020, Airborne filed a motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, for summary adjudication. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment, finding that Airborne produced evidence showing, inter alia, the decision to terminate Forrester’s employment was based on a report of inappropriate conduct, and thus was made for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. The burden then shifted to the employee, but he failed to meet his burden as he did not present evidence. He then appealed the decision in a timely manner.

The Court’s Decision

On appeal, the employee raised a number of issues, including a harassment claim, an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, a claim that the trial court erred by striking portions of his complaint, a claim that the trial court erred in the handling of certain discovery issues, a claim that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment due to procedural and evidentiary errors, and several other motions dismissed by the appellate court. On each claim, the appellate court affirmed the trial court decision, firmly rejecting each claim advanced by the employee.

Do You Need a California Employment Law Attorney?

Do you have claims against your employer but worry you signed away your right to sue or don’t have a strong enough case? Your claims may still be valid. Contact a California employment lawyer to discuss your situation. The attorneys at The Nourmand Law Firm will review every possible avenue for recovery. For a free, no-obligation consultation with a California employment law attorney, call us today at 310-553-3600.

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