December 3, 2007 -- Successful Dismissal of Employment Discrimination Case
Partner Anthony Taylor of Aleshire & Wynder prevailed on two Anti-SLAPP motions in the case of Serrato v. City of Carson, et al. (L.A. Superior Court Case No. BC327274). "SLAPP" stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.
In this case, Plaintiff brought suit and subsequently filed a First Amended Complaint (FAC) against the City of Carson for the alleged violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and for constructive termination for allegedly forcing him to resign his position of employment with the City based on allegations of sexual harassment. Through his FAC, Plaintiff also sued other defendants including a hearing officer, his supervisors and co-workers (collectively the “Individual Defendants”) based upon their speech that was made during the course of the investigation and proceedings related to this sexual harassment claim.
We responded by preparing and filing an Anti-SLAPP motion for the Court to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims against the Individual Defendants in his FAC on June 24, 2005. At that time, there was no reported decision holding that the Anti-SLAPP statute applied to speech by public employees made during the course of a sexual harassment investigation. After multiple hearings on our Anti-SLAPP motion, the Court granted the motion on December 20, 2005. Plaintiff appealed.
After extensive briefing, we ultimately prevailed on behalf of the Individual Defendants before the Court of Appeal, which on April 27, 2007 affirmed the Superior Court’s ruling granting the Individual Defendants’ Anti-SLAPP motion. At our request, the Court of Appeal also modified that opinion and held that the Individual Defendants were entitled to their attorneys’ fees on appeal through an order issued on May 23, 2007. We brought a motion for attorneys’ fees based on this ruling accordingly.
Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (SAC) naming only the City on August 28, 2007 under causes of action for constructive termination and the alleged violation of FEHA (after our demurrer was sustained, with leave to amend, to these same claims in Plaintiff’s FAC). We responded by preparing and filing an Anti-SLAPP motion to each of the Plaintiff’s claims in his SAC.
This second Anti-SLAPP motion was supported by recent case law from the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District in Gallanis-Politis v. Medina (2007) 152 Cal. App. 4th 600 (that was not available when we filed our first Anti-SLAPP motion), holding that the Anti-SLAPP statute applies to employment discrimination claims and is not limited to defamation causes of action in the context of a personnel investigation by a government entity.
After extensive briefing and oral argument on that second Anti-SLAPP motion, the Superior Court granted the motion on November 19, 2007 and dismissed Plaintiff’s lawsuit in its entirety. The City is entitled to its attorneys’ fees based on this most recent ruling and we have requested that the Court award the same.