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August 2013

Gordon & Rees Los Angeles Team Wins Summary Judgment in OCD Discrimination Case

On Aug. 16, Gordon & Rees Los Angeles partner Stephen Ronk and associate Erika Shao won summary judgment on behalf of a large, multinational retail corporation.

The plaintiff, a former overnight stocker, alleged that she had been discriminated against and harassed on the basis of her disability, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The plaintiff also alleged that she complained to the store manager about the harassment she suffered from her assistant managers, who placed her in messy parts of the store knowing it would aggravate her OCD and constantly nitpicked at her job performance, asking her how long it would take her to finish certain tasks. The plaintiff ultimately was terminated in accordance with the corporation's progressive discipline policy for substandard job performance.

The court opined during the summary judgment hearing that there was no evidence, other than the plaintiff's own subjective beliefs, of any unlawful discrimination or harassment. The court found that the plaintiff could not establish her prima facie case of disability discrimination and that the harassment she complained of was not actionable harassment on the basis of her disability. The court further found that the plaintiff's alleged complaints were not complaints about a protected activity and that the plaintiff did not dispute that she was terminated pursuant to the corporation's progressive discipline policy.

Accordingly, the court held that the plaintiff could not establish a triable issue of material fact as to any of her nine causes of action or her claim for punitive damages. The court granted summary judgment in favor of Gordon & Rees’s client, thereby ending the litigation before the Sept. 16 trial date.

Stephen E. Ronk
Erika L. Shao