California court overturns summary judgment for Target in former employee's discrimination case

By Sandra Lane | Jun 19, 2018

SAN DIEGO (Legal Newsline) – A California appeals court reversed the decision of a lower court that ruled in favor of Target Corp. in a lawsuit filed by former employee in a discrimination case.

In the lawsuit, Adrian Camacho was seeking damages because of alleged “discrimination based on sexual orientation, harassment causing a hostile work environment, failure to prevent harassment and discrimination, retaliation, constructive termination in violation of public policy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, supervision, and retention and a violation of the Bane Act,” the decision states.  

Target said that Camacho had already been paid in a workman’s compensation settlement and therefore was prevented from seeking additional damages.

“After reviewing the relevant language in the addendum and considering that language in the context of the entire settlement agreement, we conclude that the trial court erred in determining that certain language contained in the addendum to the settlement agreement executed by the parties in Camacho's Workers' Compensation case constitutes a general release of all of Camacho's civil claims. We therefore reverse the judgment,” Associate Justice Cynthia Aaron of the California Court of Appeal, 4th Appellate District, Division One wrote in the June 8 decision.

The decision states that Camacho worked as a cashier at Target in August 2012. He allegedly complained to his supervisor and to individuals in the human resources department and also called Target's anonymous hotline to report repeated verbal harassment from his co-workers because he is gay. He said that his "co-workers would ridicule, mimic and mock him, sometimes in the presence of Target customers," the decision states.

"Camacho alleges that rather than take corrective action in response to his complaints, Target instead retaliated against him by denying him a promotion and allowing the hostile work conditions to continue unabated," the decision states.

Eventually, he resigned his employment with Target on Sept. 30, 2014. However, prior to that date, Camacho filed a claim for Workers' Compensation benefits based on his determination of workplace injuries he suffered as a result of the harassment he endured, the opinion states.

He specifically "asserted injuries related to head and neck pain, as well as digestive and psychological problems," the decision states.

In March 2015, Camacho settled his workers' compensation case with Target.

"He executed the mandatory preprinted Compromise and Release (C&R) form that is utilized in all workers' compensation cases," the decision states.

Camacho and Target also executed an addendum with additional terms.

The appeals court ruled that “there is no mention of civil claims or tort injuries, or other non-Workers' Compensation claims. Rather, everything referenced ... including 'parts of body injured,' disability, temporary disability, medical treatment, rehabilitation, and the 'medical record,' indicates that what is at issue are claims that are addressed by, or that are exclusive to, the Workers' Compensation system," the decision states.

Judges Patricia D. Benke and Terry B. O’Rourke concurred.

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