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AAMER SATTAR v. UNOCAL CORP.

April 11, 1993

AAMER SATTAR, Plaintiff,
v.
UNOCAL CORPORATION, JOHN FORBES, TOM MYERS, and JUAN MUNOZ, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM H. ORRICK

 Defendants' motions for judgment as a matter of law, for remittitur and/or for a new trial, to amend the judgment, and for relief from operation of judgment having come before the Court, the Court having considered the briefs and having had the benefit of oral argument, grants in part the motion for judgment as a matter of law, and orders the entry of judgment for defendant John Forbes on plaintiff's first, second, and third causes of action for the reasons hereinafter stated. The Court also grants the motion to amend the judgment, and denies the motions for a new trial, remittitur, and relief from operation of judgment.

 I.

 Plaintiff, Aamer Sattar, was an employee of defendant Unocal Corporation ("Unocal"). He was terminated from his employment at Unocal's Rodeo chemical plant after an altercation in the workplace with a co-worker, defendant Juan Munoz. He brought this action against Unocal, Munoz, Tom Myers, another co-worker, and John Forbes, his supervisor, alleging that his treatment at Unocal had been motivated by discrimination based on his race (Arab), his nation of origin (Sri Lanka), and his religion (Muslim). Sattar stated five causes of action: (1) discriminatory discharge based on race, (2) harassment based on national original, (3) discriminatory discharge based on national origin, (4) harassment based on religion, all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and (5) violation of his right to pursue employment without discrimination under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the State of California.

 Before the case went to the jury, the Court dismissed all federal causes of action against Myers and Munoz. The jury was asked to find only if Unocal and/or Forbes were liable under the first four causes of action, and if all defendants were liable under the fifth, state-based, cause of action. The Court instructed the jury as follows:

 
To recover against defendant Forbes under his Title VII claims, plaintiff must prove that Forbes was an agent of Unocal Corporation. He may prove that Forbes was an agent by showing it was more likely than not that Forbes was his immediate supervisor or a person with authority over personnel decisions.

 Instruction No. 5.

 
To prove that defendant Forbes acted unlawfully with respect to his termination, plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Forbes was an agent of Unocal Corporation as described in Instruction No. 5 and that Forbes participated in the termination of plaintiff.

 Instruction No. 9.

 In answer to questions on the Special Jury Verdict regarding the first and third causes of action, the jury found that Sattar was not discharged because of intentional racial or national origin discrimination by Unocal. They did, however, find that Sattar was discharged because of intentional racial and national origin discrimination by Forbes.

 The jury awarded Sattar $ 20,000 for the emotional distress he suffered as a result of his racially motivated discharge by Forbes, $ 20,000 for the emotional distress he suffered as a result of his national origin motivated discharge by Forbes, $ 35,802 in back pay, and $ 33,000 in front pay.

 As indicated in the answers in the Special Jury Verdict regarding the second and fourth causes of action, the jury also found that Sattar was not unlawfully harassed on account of his national origin or religion by Unocal, or on account of his religion by Forbes. It found, however, that he was unlawfully harassed by Forbes on account of his national origin, and it awarded Sattar $ 20,000 for emotional distress. *fn1"

 Finally, the jury found for defendants Unocal and Munoz on the fifth cause of action, but found that Sattar's right to pursue his employment was violated because of race or national origin by Forbes and Myers and awarded him $ 20,000 from each man.

 The jury also found that the wrongful acts done by Unocal employees Forbes and Myers were not authorized or approved by an officer or director of Unocal or by a person with authority to ...


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