January 24, 2013

Summary of January 23, 2013 conference report for civil cases

The following is our summary of the Supreme Court’s actions on petitions for review in civil cases from the Court’s conference on Wednesday, January 23, 2013. The summary includes those civil cases in which (1) review has been granted, (2) review has been denied but one or more justices has voted for review, or (3) the Court has ordered depublished an opinion of the Court of Appeal.

Review Granted

Alamo v. Practice Management Information Corporation, S206925—Review Granted and Held—January 23, 2013

The court granted review and held further action pending consideration and disposition of a related issue in Harris v. City of Santa Monica, S181004. That case presents the following question: Does the “mixed-motive” defense apply to employment discrimination claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.).

In Alamo, an employee sued her former employer alleging “pregnancy discrimination in violation of FEHA and the California Constitution, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” The FEHA claim and common law wrongful discharge claim were tried to a jury, which found in the plaintiff’s favor. The employer appealed.

In a published opinion, Alamo v. Practice Management Information Corp. (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 95, the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Seven, held that the trial court did not err by: (1) instructing the jury that the plaintiff was required to prove her pregnancy-related leave was “a motivating reason” for her discharge; (2) refusing to instruct the jury on a mixed motive defense, i.e., that if the employer would not be liable if it could prove the same discharge decision would have been made in the absence any discriminatory or retaliatory motive; (3) failing to specify whether the plaintiff prevailed on the statutory or common law cause of action; and (4) awarding the plaintiff attorney’s fees as the prevailing party under FEHA.

Review Denied (with dissenting justices)




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