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Volpei v. County of Ventura

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division

November 7, 2013

MARK D. VOLPEI, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
COUNTY OF VENTURA, Defendant and Appellant.

Superior Court County of Santa Barbara No. VENC100395788 Thomas P. Anderle, Judge.

Page 392

COUNSEL

Tron & Tron, Lanny M. Tron, Terry L. Tron, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, Ronald W. Novotny, Mark T. Palin and Edward C. Ho, for Defendant and Appellant.

Tron & Tron, Lanny M. Tron and Terry L. Tron for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

GILBERT, P.J.

An employee is a member of a union whose collective bargaining agreement provides that the union may submit a grievance to

Page 393

arbitration. Here we conclude that this provision does not preclude the employee with a statutory grievance against his employer from filing a judicial action.

The County of Ventura (County) appeals from an order denying its petition to compel arbitration of Mark D. Volpei's claims for retaliation, harassment and discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). (Gov. Code, § 12940 et seq.) We conclude that Volpei is not bound to arbitrate his claims under the terms of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the County and his bargaining representative, the Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs' Association (Association), because the MOA does not provide for a clear and unmistakable waiver of Volpei's right to a judicial forum for his statutory discrimination claims. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In 1994, Volpei was an investigator for the Ventura County District Attorney's office. The Association entered into an MOA with the County governing Volpei's conditions of employment.

In April 2011, Volpei filed a complaint against the County for retaliation, harassment, disability discrimination, and other claims pursuant to the FEHA. Among other things, he alleged that the County harassed him because he disclosed that the district attorney's office had abused its authority and violated the law. He alleged the County also harassed him because he testified for a co-worker in his co-worker's sexual harassment claim against the County. He also alleged that the County failed to accommodate his ...


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