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Gordon & Rees Los Angeles Team Disposes of Employment Case By Demurrer

Gordon & Rees Los Angeles partner Stephen Ronk, senior counsel Jennifer Ghozland, and associate Erika Shao successfully disposed of an entire employment case by demurrer that was sustained without leave to amend.

The plaintiff, a former claims representative for a large insurance company represented by the firm, brought two claims for violation of California Labor Code section 432.7 and for retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of public policy, relying on alleged violations of Labor Code section 432.7 and Insurance Code section 670 as the public policies at issue.

The plaintiff alleged that his employer wrongfully terminated him based on a pending arrest that had not resulted in a conviction at the time of his termination. Relying on the plain language of the statutes, Gordon & Rees argued that the plaintiff fell outside of the protection of both statutes where he was convicted post-termination and both statutes exclude arrests that result in a conviction, regardless of when such conviction was entered.

Prior to the hearing on the original demurrer, the plaintiff filed a first amended complaint alleging that he anticipated the conviction would be expunged and therefore he would fall within the statutes’ protections on a future unspecified date. Gordon & Rees again demurred and argued that any expungement did not eliminate the fact that the conviction existed in time and therefore the plaintiff could never plead that he fell within the protections of Labor Code section 432.7 or Insurance Code section 670.

Judge Terry Green agreed and sustained the demurrer to the First Amended Complaint without leave to amend. The defendants are moving for fees and costs as the prevailing party because the plaintiff was put on notice before serving the original complaint that his claims lacked merit, yet he elected to proceed.

Stephen E. Ronk
Erika L. Shao