March 2021 employment law decisions
Jury findings in a first trial do not have preclusive effect on a retrial.
March 18, 2021, Fourth District Court of Appeal, Contreras-Velazquez v. Family Health Centers of San Diego, Inc.: Contreras-Velazquez sued her former employer alleging disability discrimination. A jury found Family Health not liable but the trial court ordered a new trial. At the retrial, a jury found in favor of Contreras-Velazquez. Family Health appealed asserting that the findings by the first jury precluded Contreras-Velazquez from prevailing at the retrial. The Fourth District concluded that the first jury’s findings were not a final adjudication of any issue and, therefore, did not preclude Contreras-Velazquez at retrial.
CSU is subject to representative claims that are based on statutes that provide for penalties.
March 5, 2021, First District Court of Appeal, Thomas Sargent v. Board of Trustees of the California State University: Sargent sued CSU and his supervisor for the way he was treated after raising environmental concerns at Sonoma State University. A jury found in his favor on claims alleging unlawful retaliation and under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) based on violation of California’s Occupational Safety and Health Act. CSU appealed contending it is not subject to PAGA. The court of appeal decided that CSU is not categorically immune from PAGA penalties and can be subject to PAGA claims when the statutes upon which they are premised provide for penalties.