Overcoming Hearsay Objections to the Evidence in Your California Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

Sometimes, your wrongful termination case may have overwhelming evidence on your side… a case where you are obviously entitled to a judgment in your favor. A lot of times, though, that’s not what happens. In many lawsuits, the cases are of the type often referred to as “he-said-she-said,” or as lawyers call them, “swearing contests,” which refers to the fact that the sworn testimony of witnesses make up the vast majority of the evidence, and the outcome rests on which side the jury finds more believable. If you’re involved in a case like that, the more evidence you can give the court beyond just your own testimony, the more credible your testimony may become and the stronger your case may become. To be sure you are identifying, obtaining and utilizing all the evidence you need for your strongest case possible, make sure you have an experienced Oakland wrongful termination attorney working for you.

D.W.’s was a case like that. He had risen through the ranks at the call center of a major telecommunications company. By 2012, he was named the interim acting director of the call center. He routinely received high-performance review scores and praise for his leadership skills. He applied to be named the director of the call center but was not chosen. The company selected a white woman to be the new director. Unlike D.W., the woman did not have a bachelor’s degree, which the employer listed as a “preferred qualification” for the position of director.

D.W.’s former supervisor, after having been reassigned, told him that she attempted to get the company to choose D.W., but that he had three key things working against him: he was a former employee of a competitor company, he was not white, and he was not female. Just four months later, the company fired D.W.

D.W. sued for race and gender discrimination, along with wrongful termination. In D.W.’s case, he had that “extra” evidence beyond just his sworn testimony. He gave the court the statement made by the former supervisor that said he was denied the promotion because he wasn’t white and wasn’t female.

The employer argued that the former supervisor’s statement was not admissible in court because it was, under the rules of evidence, inadmissible hearsay. The 9th Circuit, whose ruling impact federal cases filed in California (among other states,) said that the statement was admissible.

Using the law’s ‘hearsay exceptions’ to get your evidence on the record

Generally speaking, the law considers hearsay statements to be insufficiently reliable and, therefore, not admissible in a trial. There are certain exceptions, however, to that rule. As the appeals court explained, a “statement is not hearsay and may be admitted against an “opposing party if the statement ‘was made by the party’s agent or employee on a matter within the scope of that relationship and while it existed.’” In D.W.’s case, the former supervisor was an employee of the employer, the statement did pertain to the employment relationship and the statement was made while the former supervisor still worked for the company. Because the statement that D.W. sought to use “checked” all three of those “boxes,” that made the statement admissible and available for D.W. to use against his former employer.

For the strongest and most persuasive case in wrongful termination trial, you need to be able to find all of your helpful evidence, obtain it and then defeat any opposition arguments about that evidence’s admissibility at trial. For these and other essential aspects of your case, rely on the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. Attorney Fuerch is an experienced Oakland employment attorney with many years of helping wronged workers win their wrongful termination and other employment-law based cases. To learn more, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-2575 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

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