Generally, most laws are designed to advance some sort of public policy objective. Each law, at its core, intends to protect or advance the public good in some way. So what happens when two laws, each with strong public policy bases, come into conflict with each other? A recent case that came before the California Supreme Court regarding the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the state’s anti-SLAPP statute demonstrated such a conflict. The case shows that any case can take twists and turns and encounter unforeseen complexities, which is why your FEHA case needs the careful attention of an experienced California employment attorney.
The recent Supreme Court opinion involved a Korean professor at one of the California State University campuses. In 2013, the university decided not to grant tenure to the professor. The professor sued, alleging that the university decided not to award him tenure due to national origin discrimination.
This is where the case became complicated. The employer asked the trial court to dismiss the case. The university’s argument was that the professor’s lawsuit impaired its freedom of speech and was a violation of California’s anti-SLAPP statutes. SLAPP refers to “strategic litigation against public participation.” This phrase refers to any lawsuit filed simply to intimidate, burden, or otherwise force someone to cease engaging in protected activity like free speech or petitioning for redress of grievances.