Calif. court reinstates lawsuit against Home Depot filed by former employee claiming wrongful termination

By Sandra Lane | Jun 19, 2018

SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) – On May 31, Justice Douglas P. Miller of the California Court of Appeal, 4th Appellate District, Division Two announced reversal of a dismissal of case concerning the claims of a former Home Depot employee who sued over allegations of disability discrimination, wrongful termination and eight other related claims.

The lawsuit, appealed from the Superior Court of Riverside County, was heard by a three-judge panel of Justice Art W. McKinster and Justice Manuel A. Ramirez, with Miller.

The original cause of action concerned a legal action filed by two former Home Depot employees, Rosa Jensen and Linda Kerr.

In July 2010, Jensen was allegedly injured at work and went on medical leave, after which she asked for an accommodation so she could return to work. This allegedly was not granted and in November 2013, her employment was terminated, the opinion states.

According to the opinion, Kerr worked as a cashier for Home Depot, and on April 3, 2013, she was in pain due to two abscessed teeth and a tumor in her mouth and neck area and could not work her shift. Although she had a doctor’s note and requested the day off, this request allegedly was denied, and her employment was terminated on April 6, 2013.

Home Depot questioned the combination of these two former employees’ claims, saying that “Plaintiffs’ claims did not arise out of a single transaction or single series of transactions, nor did the claims raise common issues of law or fact,” the opinion states.

Plaintiffs opposed the demurrer and argued that their claims were properly joined because they were both suing Home Depot for disability discrimination and their claims raised common issues of law and fact, the opinion states.

The trial court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend, and dismissed plaintiffs’ lawsuit with prejudice. Jensen contends the trial court erred by dismissing her lawsuit because the court could have ordered severance.

Plaintiffs requested leave to amend their complaint and said they would demonstrate that the same legal issues were being raised by both plaintiffs and that discovery would be identical because their cases concerned a pattern of conduct by Home Depot in relation to employees with disabilities. However, the court rejected this argument.

As a result, plaintiffs’ notice of appeal to the California Court of Appeal was filed Oct. 4, 2016. On March 7, 2017, Kerr requested that she be dismissed as a party to this appeal, leaving Jensen as the sole plaintiff.

After considering the arguments, Miller gave the final disposition of this appeal.

“The judgment of dismissal, as it pertains to Jensen, is reversed. The trial court is directed to enter an order vacating its order denying leave to amend as to the first through seventh causes of action, and enter an order granting leave to amend. The trial court is directed to deem the first amended complaint to have been amended due to the dismissal of Kerr by this court,” he wrote.

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