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Glynn v. Superior Court (Allergan, Inc.)

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Fourth Division

November 13, 2019

John GLYNN, Petitioner,
v.
The SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent; Allergan, Inc., et al., Real Parties in Interest.

         [254 Cal.Rptr.3d 775] ORIGINAL PROCEEDINGS; petition for writ of mandate. Stephanie M. Bowick, Judge. Petition granted in part and denied in part. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BC636862)

Page 48

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 49

         COUNSEL

         Magnanimo & Dean, Frank A. Magnanimo, Sherman Oaks; Alexander Krakow & Glick LLP, Tracy L. Fehr, Los Angeles, for Petitioner.

         Paul Hastings, Stephen L. Berry and Blake R. Bertagna, Costa Mesa, for Real Parties in Interest.

         OPINION

         CURREY, J.

Page 50

          INTRODUCTION

         A temporary corporate benefits staffer mistakenly thinks an employee has transitioned from short term disability (STD) to long term disability (LTD) and is unable to work with or without an accommodation. She fires him. The terminated employee tries to correct the misunderstandings, but for months the corporation ignores his entreaties. Does this constitute direct evidence of disability discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Government Code � 12900 et seq.)? For the reasons described below, we decide it does, and therefore reverse the portion of the trial court’s order granting the corporation’s motion for summary adjudication of the employee’s disability discrimination cause of action. We also reverse the portions of the order granting summary adjudication of the employee’s retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination, and wrongful termination causes of action. We publish to clarify that even a legitimate company policy, if mistakenly applied, may engender FEHA disability discrimination liability.

          FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Petitioner John Glynn worked for real parties in interest Allergan, Inc. and Allergan USA, Inc. (collectively, Allergan) as a pharmaceutical sales representative. His primary duties involved driving to doctors’ offices to promote Allergan’s pharmaceutical products. In January 2016, Glynn requested, and Allergan approved, a medical leave of absence for a serious eye condition (myopic macular degeneration). Glynn’s doctor provided a medical certification designating Glynn’s work status as "no work" because Glynn "can’t safely drive."

          Allergan’s reasonable accommodation policy lists "reassignment to a vacant position" as a potential ...


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