Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Williams v. Sacramento River Cats Baseball Club, LLC

California Court of Appeals, Third District, Sacramento

September 24, 2019

WILFERT WILLIAMS, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS BASEBALL CLUB, LLC, Defendant and Respondent.

         CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]

          APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County No. 34201700211485CUOEGDS, David I. Brown, Judge. Affirmed.

          Law Offices of Jean Schaefer and Jean Schaefer; and The Rosa Law Group and Andrea Rosa for Plaintiff and Appellant.

          Murphy, Pearson, Bradley, & Feeney, William A. Munoz and Nathan T. Jackson for Defendant and Respondent.

          Robie, J.

         Plaintiff Wilfert Williams sued defendant Sacramento River Cats Baseball Club, LLC in a common law tort action for failing to hire him due to his race. His complaint also alleged discrimination under the Unruh[1] and Ralph[2] Civil Rights Acts and that defendant engaged in unfair business practices under Business and Professions Code section 17200.[3] The trial court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint after sustaining defendant’s demurrer. Plaintiff stipulated the dismissal be entered without leave to amend.

         Defendant asserts as a threshold matter that plaintiff lacks standing in this appeal given his stipulation in the trial court was tantamount to a nonappealable consent judgment and in any event, his causes of action fail on the merits. In the unpublished portion of this opinion, we reject defendant’s contention that plaintiff lacks standing to appeal but agree the trial court properly dismissed plaintiff’s causes of action for discrimination under the Unruh and Ralph Civil Rights Acts and for unfair business practices.

         In the published portion of this opinion, we address plaintiff’s common law failure to hire claim. Central to that claim is the applicability of Tameny. (Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co. (1980) 27 Cal.3d 167 (Tameny).) While we agree with the parties that failing to hire a prospective employee based on race violates public policy, specifically the Government Code as well as our state Constitution, that prospective employee’s remedies are grounded in the Fair Employment and Housing Act[4] (the Act). Tameny on the other hand requires “the prior existence of an employment relationship” between the parties upon which to predicate a tort duty of care. (Miklosy v. Regents of University of California (2008) 44 Cal.4th 876, 900.) Because defendant did not owe plaintiff any duty, plaintiff cannot bring a failure to hire claim against defendant in a common law tort action and must instead proceed under the Act. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of dismissal.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         I

         Factual Allegations

         From April 2014 through July 2015, plaintiff catered meals to the visiting and home team players at Raley Field, home of defendant’s minor league baseball team. He was hired by the visitor clubhouse manager, Wayne Brown, and the home clubhouse manager to do so. He also helped Brown with meal preparation during that time. While assisting Brown, the job of assistant visitor clubhouse manager became available and plaintiff applied for the job. Brown recommended plaintiff to both defendant’s human resources director and to the baseball operations and public relations coordinator, Daniel Emmons. Plaintiff was never interviewed for the position even though he was already performing some of the tasks of assistant clubhouse manager and had experience running his own catering business. Instead, defendant hired a Caucasian teenager who was still in high school and did not meet any of the qualifications for the job.

         In June 2015, while plaintiff helped Brown in the visitor clubhouse as Brown’s guest, plaintiff witnessed a visiting team’s trainer and coach berate, intimidate, assault, and swear at Brown, who is African American, “as if he were a slave or servant, not an employee.” “Plaintiff could do nothing but stand by and endure the harassing conduct, based on the threat that either [the trainer] or [the coach] would turn their wrath on him, the only other African American present.” Emmons was present and observed the harassing conduct but failed to stop it and appeared to condone the conduct by siding with the visiting trainer and coach.

         II

         Legal Proceedings

         Plaintiff’s operative complaint alleged three causes of action. The first was a common law tort action for “Failure to Hire” based on “Race Discrimination in Violation of Public Policy” as articulated by the Act under Government Code section 12940, subdivision (a), which prohibits prospective employers from refusing to hire individuals based on race. The second cause of action was for violation of the Unruh and Ralph Civil Rights Acts based on the conduct of the visiting trainer and coach while plaintiff was in the visiting clubhouse with Brown. The third cause of action was for unfair business practices based on defendant’s conduct of underpaying Brown, who in turn had to underpay plaintiff for his catering work, which served to transfer costs so defendant could spend money otherwise earmarked for the visiting clubhouse on other operations. This conduct, plaintiff alleged, provided defendant with an unfair competitive advantage and with illegal profits.

         Defendant demurred to the operative complaint arguing plaintiff’s first cause of action failed because California law does not recognize a cause of action for failure to hire in violation of public policy. The second cause of action failed, defendant argued, because the conduct plaintiff complains of was not prohibited by the Ralph Civil Rights Act and also because the Unruh Civil Rights Act did not recognize “ ‘environmental’ ” claims, where the complained of conduct is directed at someone other than the complaining party. As to the third cause of action, defendant argued plaintiff failed to allege an injury in fact or a causal relationship between its conduct and plaintiff’s harm. Defendant further argued that, to the extent plaintiff’s claim was derivative of his first cause of action, it failed because plaintiff’s first cause of action was meritless.

         The trial court issued a tentative ruling sustaining defendant’s demurrer as to all causes of action. In its reasoning, the court stated the demurrer was sustained with leave to amend; however, the court’s ruling provides: “Parties stipulated and the Court accepted that the Demurrer to the [operative] Complaint be sustained WITHOUT leave to amend.” When making its decision to sustain the demurrer, the court reasoned plaintiff did not state a cause of action for failure to hire because California does not recognize a common law cause of action for failure to hire in violation of public policy. Further, to the extent plaintiff alleged a statutory claim under the Act, he failed to do so because he failed to allege he exhausted his administrative remedies. As to plaintiff’s second cause of action, the court found he did not state a cause of action under the Unruh Civil Rights Act because he failed to allege that he was the victim of the discriminatory conduct. This cause of action also failed under the Ralph Civil Rights Act because plaintiff did not allege he was the victim of violence. Finally, plaintiff failed to state a cause of action for unfair business practices because plaintiff did not show he was defendant’s employee or that he was directly injured by defendant. Further, the cause of action failed as a derivative claim of plaintiff’s Tameny cause of action because that cause of action failed as well.

         The judgment of dismissal provides that “The Court, having sustained [defendant’s] demurrer to all causes of action alleged in [plaintiff’s complaint] without leave to amend, based on a stipulation of the Parties, hereby” dismisses the case in its entirety. As a result, plaintiff’s entire case was dismissed.

         Plaintiff ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.