calendar screenWhen you have a potential employment discrimination case, there are many legal procedural hurdles you may have to clear. One of these is making sure that you file the appropriate legal documents before the deadline for filing passes. Filing late could mean losing out entirely on the chance to pursue your case. In one recent Fair Employment and Housing Act case, the California Court of Appeal ruled that, contrary to the decision of a lower court, the man had not missed the applicable deadline and could proceed with his claim of racial discrimination.

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police car crashPursuing your personal injury case can involve many complex steps. The law allows a variety of techniques for presenting your case. In fact, there may be a point in your case at which you bring forward multiple contentions, some of which may seem to be in conflict with one another. The law allows you to present alternative claims for liability and alternative factual allegations, and, according to a recent California Court of Appeal case, the use of this technique should not be considered to be a “sham” and disallowed.

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Judge's gavelThere are a lot of things that go into pursuing a personal injury case, including many decisions that must be made and procedural hurdles that must be cleared. At any of a number of points in the process, making a wrong choice in how you pursue your case can cause you to lose, on procedural grounds, your opportunity to obtain the compensation you deserve. That’s what makes tackling your personal injury case on your own so risky. Just as you know all the nuances in your career field, your injury attorney readily knows all of the laws, rules, and procedural hoops that must be complied with simply to get your day in court. One injured Northern California man’s case provided a stark example, since his procedural errors led the court to throw out a default judgment in his favor and also dismiss his case entirely.

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bell pepperAn employer who was 64 years old when his employer terminated his employment, allegedly for stealing a bell pepper from the workplace cafeteria, recently received some good news from the California Court of Appeal. That court upheld a lower court’s verdict in his favor and the $16 million damages award that went with it. The appeals court made its ruling because the employee had provided ample proof at trial to allow the jury to conclude that the employer didn’t really fire an employee with a relatively clean record for possibly stealing a 68-cent vegetable. Additionally, the employer’s acts of hiding its illegal motives behind false non-discriminatory reasons constituted the sort of malice that permitted a punitive damages award.

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The imagery of a hanging noose often carries with it strong connotations, particularly for African-Americans. Despite this image’s potency, a federal court decided that an African-American worker’s discovery of a noose hanging at his work site was not enough to allow the employee to proceed with a hostile work environment claim. Generally, successful hostile work environment claims require proof of “pervasive or severe” race discrimination, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that a single noose-hanging incident was neither pervasive nor sufficiently severe.mechanic

The employee, Jon Henry, had worked as an HVAC mechanic at the University of California at San Francisco since 2006. During his time there, Henry claimed that he experienced multiple instances of racial animus that created a hostile work environment. These included inappropriate racial comments, the use of racial epithets, and, in July 2012, the hanging of a noose in the workplace.

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Night Court BailiffA recent California Court of Appeal case from Northern California reaffirms the difference between disability discrimination cases and other types of disability matters. In this 2016 decision, the court re-affirmed that, if an employee is alleging that his employer discriminated based upon his disability or perceived disability, he is not required to prove that the employer’s adverse actions were the result of an intent to discriminate.

The employee in the case, Dennis Wallace, was a sheriff’s deputy in Stanislaus County. Wallace, who had previously injured his left knee at work, received a 12-month assignment as a court bailiff in 2010. Six months into the assignment, in October 2010, a medical exam revealed that the deputy’s knee was seriously damaged, and the doctor placed Wallace on further restrictions. Despite Wallace’s claims that he could perform the duties of his job, the employer decided to place him on leave. The employer made its decision based upon the mistaken belief that the October 2010 medical report left it no choice but to place the deputy on leave. Wallace remained on unpaid leave for more than a year, when he passed a fitness-for-duty exam.

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Motorcycle AccidentSettlement offers are part of many personal injury cases. Weighing whether to accept or reject an offer can be complicated, especially when you receive a statutory settlement offer in your California injury lawsuit. Rejecting such an offer and then obtaining a judgment that is less than the offered settlement amount could mean that you’re on the hook for paying some of the other side’s court costs. One injured Northern California motorcyclist escaped such a fate, even though the judgment he received was less than the amount offered, since the California Court of Appeal decided that the terms of the other side’s offer did not comply with the law’s requirements.

This case began with an auto accident in Alameda County. Seventeen-year-old Jacy Rasnick was driving her father’s car when she ran a stop sign and struck a motorcycle driven by Charles Sanford. Sanford sued the driver and her father for his injuries. The Rasnicks, through their lawyer, extended a statutory “998 offer” in the amount of $130,000. The Rasnicks conditioned this offer on Sanford’s entering into a settlement agreement and general release with them.

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dialysis-arm-01A groundbreaking new California Court of Appeal ruling has expanded the rights of workers under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, establishing that not only does that law protect employees with disabilities, but also it protects employees with family members who have disabilities. In the recent case, the court announced, for the first time, that employers have a legal responsibility to reasonably accommodate employees who have family members with disabilities and who depend on the employee for assistance.

Luis Castro-Ramirez, the employee in the case, had a son who required daily dialysis. When the man sought employment as a truck driver with Dependable Highway Express, Inc. in 2009, he told his prospective employer about the child’s needs. Specifically, he notified the employer that the child needed dialysis every day and that Castro-Ramirez was responsible for administering that daily dialysis. Only people who have completed classes in administering dialysis can perform the task, and Castro-Ramirez was the only person in his household who qualified.

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Improved asphalt brings better roadsA recent decision by the California Court of Appeal upheld a jury verdict in favor of a truck driver in a fatal accident. Even though the truck driver backed over a contractor, causing the contractor’s death, and the truck driver had smoked marijuana two days earlier, the contractor’s family’s wrongful death case failed anyway. In any negligence case, the plaintiff must prove causation, and, in this case, the dead man’s family was unable to persuade the jury that the truck driver’s marijuana use, not the contractor’s inattentiveness, caused the contractor’s death.

The lawsuit arose after the tragic death of Dan Toste. Toste, a general contractor on an asphalt project on State Route 135, was working when a construction truck driven by Paul Michaelson backed over him. After the accident, Michaelson voluntarily took a drug test, which revealed quantities of marijuana in his system. The truck driver admitted he had smoked two days before the incident in order to treat a headache. Toste’s son sued Michaelson, his employer, and the asphalt supplier on the project, asserting claims of negligence and wrongful death.

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signature-630x464Before you sign a waiver agreement, it is important to understand just how broad that agreement’s coverage is. In a recent case before the California Court of Appeal, a man injured in an auto accident was not allowed to sue the driver at fault for the accident, nor the owner of the vehicle, because the accident was a “related activity” that was covered by a waiver the man signed with a religious-based substance abuse recovery home where he was residing at the time.

The accident occurred when David Richardson, an employee of In His Steps Christian Recovery Home, Inc., drove one of the home’s participants, Robert Murphy, to the DMV to get a state ID card, which Murphy needed in order to apply for public assistance. On their way to the DMV branch, Richardson ran a red light and crashed into another vehicle. Murphy was injured in the accident. Murphy sued Richardson, the home, and one of the home’s board members (who owned the van in which Murphy and Richardson were riding when the accident occurred) for negligence. The home, the employee, and the board member asked the trial court to issue a summary judgment in their favor. Murphy could not win his case, they asserted, because he had signed a waiver when he first entered the home’s program, and that waiver provision prohibited him from launching any lawsuits, such as this one, related to the home’s “help and assistance given … or related activities.”

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