It’s common practice for employers accused of discrimination against their workers to try to dig up dirt about the workers’ past – anything that might help bolster their case. But can the evidence acquired after the employee had been disparately treated be used to justify those actions?
“After-acquired evidence” is proof of employee misconduct that an employer discovers after the employee’s been discharged on other grounds (often after an California employment lawsuit has been filed). Courts have debated for years whether such evidence can be used as a defense in employment litigation.
A few years ago, the California Supreme Court significantly limited the use of the defense in employment discrimination cases.
The instructive case our Los Angeles employment lawyers refer to when this question arises is Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co. In this matter, plaintiff sued his former employer under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, alleging the company failed in its legal obligation to accommodate his physical disability and refused to rehire him in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
After this claim was filed, the employer was made aware of information indicating that the plaintiff had used someone else’s Social Security number in order to gain employment in the first place. The employer used this to file a motion for summary judgment in its favor. The trial court initially denied this motion, but than issued an alternative write effectively granting it – an action the appellate court affirmed. The California Supreme Court, however, reversed. Continue Reading ›