LCW Partner Danny Yoo And Associate Aleena Hashmi Won The Early Dismissal Of A Disability Discrimination Lawsuit

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room, Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education, Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Feb 07, 2023

An LCW team led by Partner Danny Yoo and Associate Aleena Hashmi won the dismissal of a lawsuit against a special district client. When a lawsuit is filed, the entity being sued has options.  One option is for the entity to answer the complaint to tell its side of the story and to assert affirmative defenses, which would shield the entity from liability even if some of the facts of the complaint are true.  Another option is to file a demurrer, which asserts that even if all the allegations in the lawsuit are true, there is still no cause of action. The latter option is very challenging.  Even if a court grants the entity’s demurrer, the court usually gives the person suing an opportunity to try again to file a successful lawsuit.

LCW attorneys Danny and Aleena took the more challenging option and won.  First, they met and conferred with the former employee who had been separated from his employment at a special district because of the district’s inability to accommodate his disability.  After many communications, the former employee’s legal counsel agreed to drop some discrimination claims and a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

Second, Danny and Aleena filed a demurrer as to the remaining claims for disability discrimination and failure to prevent discrimination.  They argued that the employee pursued an administrative appeal of his separation, but then failed to challenge the special district’s administrative hearing decision upholding the separation.  Because the finding in the special district’s administrative decision was that the employee could not perform the essential functions of his job with or without accommodation, the employee’s failure to timely challenge that administrative decision meant that the employee was prevented from litigating these same claims in court.

The court granted the demurrer and dismissed the lawsuit because there was no judicial avenue for the employee to challenge his separation.   Our special district client benefitted from this strategy because the litigation ended before the time-consuming discovery or trial could begin.

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