The California Court of Appeal recently held this month in Alamo v. Practice Management Information that a wrongfully terminated employee must prove that illegal discrimination was a “substantial factor motivating” the termination of employment or other adverse employment action. This means that the defendant employer in such an action may use a “mixed-motive” defense by proving that it had a legal reason for making the same adverse decision.
Basically, let’s say that a female employee was fired because she was pregnant, but the employer happened to prove that it would have fired her anyway because of poor performance. As a result, the employee may not obtain reinstatement, backpay, front pay, or noneconomic damages, but may obtain declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs as a result. This means the employee basically gets nothing.
Does this mean that a wrongfully terminated employee should never sue for discrimination? No. All the case means that in certain cases, the burden on the employee in order to win just got heavier.
Please note that the information I am providing here in this entry, or in my website is NOT to be construed as legal advice nor is it meant to form an attorney-client relationship. If you want a free legal consultation, please call or email me anytime.
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