Lidow v. Superior Court: California Law Applies To Wrongful Termination Claim By Officer of Foreign Corporation

by Sayema Hameed

In a new decision, the California Court of Appeal has answered the following novel question:  Under the conflict of law principle known as the internal affairs doctrine, does California law or foreign law apply to a claim brought by an officer of a foreign corporation for wrongful termination in violation of public policy?  In Lidow v. Superior Court (International Rectifier Corp.) (filed May 23, 2012, Second District, Div. Two, Case No. B239042), the Court of Appeal answered the question as follows: “We hold that under the circumstances alleged here, specifically where a foreign corporation has removed or constructively discharged a corporate officer in retaliation for that person’s complaints of possible harmful or unethical activity, California law applies.”

Does FEHA Support A Retaliation Claim By A Partner Against Her Partnership? The California Court of Appeal Says “Yes.”

by Sayema Hameed

The California Court of Appeal has issued a new decision holding that the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), Government Code section 12900 et seq., supports a claim for retaliation by a partner against her partnership for opposing sexual harassment of an employee.  Fitzsimons v. California Emergency Physicians Medical Group (filed May 16, 2012, First District, Div. Three, Case No. A131604).

Samaniego v. Empire Today LLC: California Court of Appeal Finds Contractor Arbitration Agreement Unconscionable

by Sayema Hameed

The California Court of Appeal has issued a new decision holding an employee arbitration agreement to be unenforceable: Samaniego v. Empire Today LLC (First District, Div. Three, Case No. A132297; filed 4/5/12; publication ordered 5/7/12).

In Samaniego, carpet installers filed a class action against Empire Today, LLC (“Empire”), a national carpet and flooring business, alleging that Empire misclassified them as independent contractors.  The complaint alleged numerous California Labor Code violations.  Empire appealed from the superior court’s refusal to compel contractual arbitration of the carpet installers’ claims.  The superior court found the arbitration agreement unconscionable under California law.

The Court of Appeal affirmed and held that the employee arbitration agreement was unconscionable and unenforceable under the California Supreme Court case Armendariz v. Foundation Health Psychare Services, Inc. (2000) 24 Cal.4th 83.  The Court of Appeal further held that this issue was governed by California law and that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion (2011) ___ U.S. ___ [131 S.Ct. 1740, 179 L.Ed.2d 742] did not change the Court’s analysis.

California DFEH Launches “Intake To Decision” Video Series

by Sayema Hameed

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”), which investigates, mediates and prosecutes employment violations under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, has launched a new video series, “DFEH Intake To Decision,” to educate employees, employers and the public at large about the employment discrimination complaint process.  “DFEH Intake To Decision” presents a typical sequence of the DFEH’s administrative process for handling an employment discrimination complaint from the initiation of the complaint to the decision.  Based on a fact pattern fictionalized from an actual case of perceived disability discrimination, the seven-part series features: 1) initial contact; 2) intake interview; 3) investigation; 4) conciliation or mediation; 5) accusation; 6) hearing; and 7) conclusion or decision.

You can view the seven-part series on the DFEH’s YouTube channel: