How Jury Mistakes May Allow You to Obtain a New Trial in Your California Discrimination Case

Legal News GavelIn any civil case, you, as the plaintiff, obviously seek a verdict in your favor. If you should not get a successful outcome at trial, there may still be options. The facts of your situation may dictate that you are entitled to a new trial. There are many reasons why you might be allowed to retry your case. One of these is if the jury made mistakes in carrying out its duties. In any of these areas, a skilled California employment attorney can help explore your options and protect your rights.

One example of jury errors and how they trigger a new trial was the case of Jacqueline, a worker employed by a food service entity. She had held multiple positions, including manager of the entity’s flagship restaurant and manager of its catering business. In 2012, she reported to her employer some gender-based pay inequality issues, as well as certain forms of sexist conduct. The next year, the employer fired the woman. She sued, alleging that the employer had violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act because it had terminated her because she was pregnant and in retaliation for making complaints.

The employer, in its defense, argued that the woman’s job performance had dropped dramatically starting in the summer of 2012 and that no one in a decision-making role knew that she was pregnant until after she had already been fired.

With each side having presented its arguments, the case went to the jury. In civil cases like a FEHA action, nine of the 12 jurors must vote in your favor in order to obtain a plaintiff’s verdict. A jury may have to answer several questions, and there must be agreement among nine or more on each question. In Jacqueline’s case, the jurors could not reach a nine-vote majority on the very first question. The jury foreperson asked the judge several questions that seemed to indicate uncertainty about what the jury was supposed to do if they could not get an agreement among nine of them. Eventually, they returned a verdict in favor of the employer.

Jacqueline appealed and won a new trial. Discussions with the jurors after they reached their verdict indicated that they were confused about their responsibilities. They mistakenly believed that, if there was not an agreement among nine of them to vote in favor of the employee, they should return a verdict in favor of the employer. The jurors’ confusion was clear from both the questions they asked as well as the looks on their faces after the judge attempted to explain their duties to them. Unable to resolve their confusion satisfactorily, the result of the trial was “an irregularity in the proceedings of the jury that materially affected plaintiff’s substantial rights” and was contrary to the law, so Jacqueline was entitled to a new trial.

In your trial, there may be certain unique events or other oddities. Sometimes these irregularities may be important events that allow you to seek and obtain a new trial and a new chance to get compensation for the discrimination you suffered. The Oakland employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch have been working hard for many years to achieve successful results for our clients. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-1073 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

What Evidence Is Needed to Put Together a Successful Employment Discrimination Case in California?, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Feb. 27, 2018

Can Obesity Be the Basis of a Valid Disability Discrimination Case in California?, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Feb. 13, 2018