Horvitz & Levy persuaded the Court of Appeal to affirm summary judgment in favor of an employer in a Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) action based on the lack of a causal connection between plaintiff’s protected activity and the allegedly wrongful act that occurred within the limitations period.
Plaintiff Loan Le brought claims against The Regents of the University of California under FEHA based largely on conduct that occurred before June 2014 when her employment contract with The Regents lawfully concluded. Plaintiff did not file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) until about two years later, in June 2016, though she was required by law to do so within one year from when an unlawful employment practice occurred. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of The Regents on the ground that the DFEH complaint was untimely.
Plaintiff appealed and The Regents retained Horvitz & Levy to defend the summary judgment on appeal. Plaintiff contended that she timely exhausted her administrative remedies because she filed her DFEH complaint within one year of when she learned of the last act she alleged violated FEHA, i.e., a February 2015 publication of some academic reports in which her supervisor did not identify her as a coauthor. Horvitz & Levy argued, among other things, that the 2015 publication did not violate FEHA because there was no causal link between the supervisor’s coauthorship decision and plaintiff’s allegedly making a protected complaint to the supervisor over a year earlier before plaintiff was hired. The Court of Appeal agreed with Horvitz & Levy’s argument and affirmed.