Age Discrimination Claim Survives Dismissal

A case in the California Court of Appeals has reversed a trial court’s decision. The trial court dismissed a case stating that there were no issues worth trying in front of a jury.


Our age discrimination lawyers know that employers will likely defend against age discrimination claims vigorously in court. The case of Cheal v. El Camino Hospital is somewhat typical because the employer has defended itself against claims of age discrimination by claiming that the employee was underperforming.

Employment discrimination cases often bring out accusations from both sides. Usually an employee brings a claim and is required to prove a preliminary case, also know as a prima facie case.

Then, the burden shifts to the employer to prove that there was a legitimate and non-discriminatory purpose for any adverse employment decisions.

In the final step the employee is given the opportunity to refute the claims made by the employer.

In this case an employee sued after she was terminated for age discrimination, the employee was 61 years old when she was fired in October of 2008. The employee was a hospital worker for more than 20 years and prepared meals for patients.

During her 20 years of employment she consistently received positive evaluations regarding her performance. The employment environment changed, however, after a new supervisor was hired on in July 2007.

Initially the trial court dismissed the case because the employer was able to show that the employee made a number of mistakes on various meals. However, at the appellate level the court determined that employees in similar positions were responsible for preparing in the neighborhood of 500 meals a day, a few mistakes were commonplace with that volume of meals.

There was evidence that some younger workers made the same mistakes and were not disciplined. In addition, evidence was presented that the employer had made statements about a preference for workers who were younger and pregnant.

This hearsay statement was held to be admissible as a statement against interest and gave rise to an issue for trial regarding the true reasons for the employee’s termination.

As a result the appellate court has reversed the trial court’s dismissal and allowed the case to proceed to trial.

At trial the plaintiff will attack the reasons supplied by her employer for her termination.

The decision by the appellate court in California is a victory for employees everywhere. Employers will often manufacture claims that an employee was not performing adequately when the reality might be that discrimination has occurred.

Costa Mesa employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 949.375.4734.

More Blog Entries:

Fears of Raising Minimum Wage are Unfounded, February 24, 2014, Los Angeles Employment Lawyer Blog

More Retaliation Claims filed in 2013 Than Previous Years, February 21, 2014, Los Angeles Employment Lawyer Blog

Additional Entries:

Cheal v. El Camino Hospital, February 3, 2014, The Recorder.

Contact Information