Kerr & Wagstaffe obtains reversal of summary judgment in pregnancy discrimination claim

On May 23, 2018, the Court of Appeal for the First District reversed a summary judgment against one of Kerr & Wagstaffe’s clients, remanding the action for further proceedings on her pregnancy discrimination claim under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).

Ada Abed sued Western Dental Services, Inc. for pregnancy discrimination. Ms. Abed alleged that during the middle of her externship with Western, the company found and she was pregnant and falsely told her it had no openings at the Napa office where she worked.  In January 2017, the Napa County Superior Court entered summary judgment against Ms. Abed, holding that her claim was barred as a matter of law because she did not submit an application (for the job she was told did not exist).  Kerr & Wagstaffe filed an appeal, and the First District reversed.  The Court of Appeal’s published opinion holds that discrimination claims do not have mechanistic requirements, and “the plaintiff need not establish any particular element [of a prima facie case] so long as he or she ultimately presents enough evidence to support an inference that an employment decision was discriminatory.” “Employers who lie about the existence of open positions are not immune from liability under FEHA simply because they are effective at keeping protected persons from applying.”  Ada Abed v. Western Dental Services, Inc., No. A150933 (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist. May 23, 2018). The appeal was handled by Kerr & Wagstaffe attorney Michael von Loewenfeldt, who is certified as an appellate specialist by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization and leads the firms appellate practice.

The Court of Appeal’s opinion can be found here.