Claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and Unruh Act discrimination based on third party offensive comments in presentation to employer.
May 12, 2021, Fourth Appellate District, Robert Smith v. BP Lubricants USA Inc.: Smith sued BP and one of its employees after the employee made several comments during a presentation at Smith’s former employer, Jiffy Lube, that Smith considered racist and offensive. The trial court dismissed the case (demurrer). On appeal, the Fourth District affirmed the dismissal of Smith’s harassment claim, which was based on an aiding and abetting theory. The appellate court decided that Smith did not and could not allege that the defendants knew of Jiffy Lube’s alleged harassment against Smith, or that defendants knew the conduct was unlawful or gave Jiffy Lube assistance or encouragement. But the Fourth District reversed with respect to Smith’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim after finding that the BP employee’s alleged conduct of making three offensive comments in front of an audience of 50 could be found to be extreme and outrageous. The appellate court also reversed with respect to Smith’s discrimination claim under the Unruh Act after deciding that the Act covers claims based on verbal harassment and that the BP employee acted as a business establishment when he made his alleged comments.
Case alleging adverse actions of reassignment and termination is not subject to SLAPP law.
April 29, 2021, Second Appellate District, Junnie Verceles v. Los Angeles Unified School District: The trial court dismissed Verceles’s case (SLAPP motion) after finding his employment discrimination and retaliation claims were based on the District’s investigation of his alleged misconduct. The court of appeal reversed on grounds Vereceles’s case was based on the District’s decisions to reassign him and terminate him.