Supreme Court Curtails Availability Of Defense To Employers In Employment Discrimination Cases

July 2019
Number 36

In Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis, the United States Supreme Court held that the requirement to file an administrative charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) prior to filing a discrimination lawsuit, which is set forth in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), is not a “jurisdictional” requirement and is thus subject to waiver. This means that if an employer fails to promptly raise an objection based on an employee’s failure to file an administrative charge, courts may nonetheless have jurisdiction to preside over the case.

Background

Title VII prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Before a complainant may file a Title VII action in civil court, a complainant must file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged unlawful employment action. Upon receiving the charge, the EEOC notifies the employer and investigates the claim. In some instances, the EEOC may choose to bring a civil action against the employer; however, in most cases, the EEOC will issue a complainant a right-to-sue notice. Within 90 days of receipt of the right-to-sue notice, the complainant is entitled to commence a civil action against the employer. This process is often referred to as the “exhaustion of administrative remedies.”

Fort Bend County, Texas v. Davis

Attempting to seek redress for alleged harassment and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment to her employer, Fort Bend County, plaintiff Lois M. Davis submitted an intake questionnaire to the EEOC in February 2011 followed by a charge in March 2011. While her charge was pending with the EEOC, Davis was fired for failing to report to work on a Sunday when she attended church instead. Davis later attempted to supplement her charge by handwriting “religion” on the EEOC intake questionnaire she previously filled out, but she made no change to the formal EEOC charge documents. A few months later, she received a right-to-sue notice.

In January 2012, Davis filed a civil suit alleging discrimination based on religion and retaliation for reporting sexual harassment. Years into the litigation, during an appeal of an earlier motion for summary judgment, Fort Bend County moved to dismiss the case and asserted for the first time that the court lacked jurisdiction to decide Davis’s religion-based discrimination claim because she had not included the claim in her EEOC charge. The District Court held that Davis did not satisfy the charge-filing requirement with respect to the religion-based discrimination claim and that the requirement was “jurisdictional,” and could thus not be forfeited or waived by her employer. A jurisdictional bar to a claim precludes the court from considering the issue in controversy. The District Court therefore dismissed the religion-based discrimination claim because Davis never filed an administrative charge with the EEOC with respect to the religion-based discrimination claim.

The Fifth Circuit reversed the District Court’s decision and held that the charge-filing requirement is not jurisdictional and that Fort Bend County had waived the defense since it was not timely raised.

On review, the Supreme Court held that while Title VII’s charge-filing requirement is a mandatory claim processing rule, it is not a jurisdictional requirement affecting the authority of the courts. That is, a court may still have jurisdiction to consider a claim despite a complainant’s failure to satisfy the charge-filing requirement.

Notably, although the Supreme Court held that “[y]ears into litigation” was too late to raise an objection to the charge-filing requirement, the Supreme Court’s decision does not specify the appropriate time frame in which an employer must raise an objection to the charge-filing requirement before forfeiture. After this case, it is more important than ever that employers raise a failure to exhaust administrative remedies defense at the earliest possible stage of litigation.

Impact on California

Many discrimination claims filed in California arise under the Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) rather than Title VII. Like Title VII, FEHA prescribes specific charge-filing requirements that a complainant must satisfy before filing a civil lawsuit. WhileFort Bend County, Texas v. Davis specifically analyzes only the charge-filing requirement under Title VII, California courts analyze FEHA claims in a similar manner, with California case law suggesting that an employer waives a defense of the charge-filing requirement if not timely raised. (See Mokler v. County of Orange, (2007) 157 Cal.App.4th 121.)

Takeaways

This case serves as a cautionary tale to employers. Employers should be vigilant about confirming whether complainants have met Title VII or FEHA’s charge-filing requirement as soon as a lawsuit is filed, and if applicable, promptly raising an objection based on the failure to comply with the charge-filing requirement, or else risk forfeiting a potentially dispositive defense.

If you would like more information about this case, or have any questions related to employment claims arising under Title VII or FEHA, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also subscribe to our podcast, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or download our mobile app.

Written by:

Michelle L. Cannon

Partner

Courtney de Groof

Associate

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Police Officer’s Pre-Promotion Conduct Could Be Basis to Rescind Promotion

July 2019
Number 35

On June 14, 2019 the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District issued its opinion in Conger v. County of Los Angeles, finding that denying a police officer’s promotion because of his conduct prior to the promotion, was not a violation of his rights and was instead a legitimate merit-based decision.

In November 2015, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department promoted Sergeant Thomas L. Conger to the rank of lieutenant, a position subject to a six-month probationary period. In mid-April 2016, before the six-month probationary period expired, Conger was informed that he was being investigated for a use of force incident that occurred before Conger’s probationary promotion. As a result, the probationary period was extended. In May 2016, while still on probation, Conger was released from the probationary position of lieutenant due to his failure to adhere to Department policies regarding use of force. The evaluation period was listed as November 1, 2015, to May 20, 2016, but the incident described in the evaluation was the May 21, 2015 use of force incident that had occurred almost six months before the promotion.

Conger filed a petition for a writ of mandate in the trial court, arguing that the promotion rescission was based on alleged misconduct that happened before he was promoted, and constituted a “denial of promotion on grounds other than merit” pursuant to the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights (POBR) Act (Government Code section 3300, et seq.), and therefore he was entitled to an administrative appeal hearing.

The trial court denied Conger’s petition, concluding that Conger could be denied a promotion based on merit factors arising prior to the probationary period because section 3304(b)’s relevant period was not limited to the duration of the probation itself. The trial court found that the decision to rescind the promotion based on Conger’s failure to report a use of force was merit-based.

Conger appealed and the California Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision. The court observed that an employer may deny a promotion without triggering the right to appeal under POBR so long as the denial is based on merit. The court noted that while a demotion is one of the listed punitive actions under section 3303 that triggers the administrative appeal right, regardless of whether it was based on merit or nonmerit grounds, this promotion was not yet permanent and thus its denial did not qualify as a demotion. The court found that the critical factor was that the adverse action took place during the probationary period while the employer was still assessing whether the officer deserved the higher position. The court concluded that Conger’s release from his probationary position before he achieved permanent status constituted a “denial of promotion” for POBR purposes, and not a “demotion.” While this decision establishes that an agency may consider a police officer’s pre-promotion conduct during the probationary period, and that a subsequent denial of a promotion based on such conduct may be found to be merit-based, it is still a fact-specific analysis and does not mean that every situation will result in an officer being ineligible for the administrative appeal.

If you have any questions about probationary considerations in promotions of police officers, or about the POBR in general, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also subscribe to our podcast, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or download our mobile app.

Written by:

Jenell Van Bindsbergen

Partner

Michele R. Lyons

Senior Counsel

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Court Reaffirms Absences To Attend Medical Appointments May Be Evidence Of A Disability

July 2019
Number 34

In Ross v. County of Riverside, decided on June 20, 2019, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District reaffirmed that repeated or extended absences from work for the purpose of attending doctor’s appointments amount to a limitation on a major life activity, thus physical impairments which cause such repeated or extended absences may meet the definition of a physical disability.

Christopher Ross, a County of Riverside employee, brought a lawsuit against his former employer for multiple claims including violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The trial court had granted the County of Riverside’s summary judgment motion, stating that Mr. Ross could not establish his FEHA disability-related claims. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that although Mr. Ross had not provided any medical documentation to his employer stating restrictions or limitations on his ability to perform his job duties, the evidence presented could establish a temporary physical impairment that was actually disabling or perceived as disabling, and was enough to demonstrate there is a triable issue to allow the case to proceed in court.

Background

Mr. Ross worked for the County as a deputy district attorney. In 2013, Mr. Ross began exhibiting symptoms that required medical evaluation and testing to determine whether he had a serious medical condition.

A few months later, Mr. Ross informed his supervisors that he was receiving testing from an out-of-state clinic and that the doctors had informed him he could not have any stress at work as it was causing many of his symptoms. However, a formal diagnosis of Mr. Ross’ condition had not been made.

Shortly after notifying his supervisors of the testing, Mr. Ross requested an assignment “without stress, no quotas, no deadlines, no pressure.” At that time, the County requested a doctor’s note indicating Mr. Ross’ work restrictions or limitations. Mr. Ross did not provide medical documentation outlining any restrictions or limitations on his ability to perform his work duties, and even admitted that none of his physicians at the out-of-state clinic suggested any restrictions on his work, other than advising him to reduce his stress.

From June 2013 through November 2013, Mr. Ross missed approximately three weeks of work to attend medical appointments. The County placed Mr. Ross on a paid leave of absence pending a fitness for duty examination, but Mr. Ross never returned to work with the County.

In July 2014, Mr. Ross sued the County for multiple violations of law, including violations of FEHA’s disability-related provisions. The trial court granted the County’s motion for summary judgment as to Mr. Ross’ claims for disability discrimination, failure to reasonably accommodate and failure to engage in the interactive process, on the grounds that Mr. Ross could not establish he was disabled. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding that the trial court had erred in granting the motion as there was sufficient evidence presented by Mr. Ross to demonstrate an issue as to whether Mr. Ross had a disability under the FEHA that the trial court should consider.

“Disability” Within the Meaning of the FEHA

Both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the FEHA under California law, prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Employers must take part in a good faith interactive process and provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless to do so would cause an undue hardship.

“Physical disability” is defined to include any physical impairment that affects one or more body systems-including the neurological and immunological systems, and limits a major life activity. Working is considered to be a major life activity, and a physical impairment is considered limiting if it makes the achievement of the major life activity difficult. The appellate court pointed to repeated or extended absences from work for medical appointments as constituting a limitation on the major life activity of working, therefore supporting Mr. Ross’ claim of having a “disability.”

Further, physical disabilities can be temporary or short term and include not only those physical impairments that are actually disabling, but include those which are potentially disabling or are perceived to be potentially disabling. Therefore, even in cases where an employee does not have a current disability, if by the employer’s actions it is apparent that the employer perceives the employee could be disabled in the future, this would be considered a physical disability under FEHA. The Court of Appeal found that the County’s actions in transferring Mr. Ross to another unit, requests for medical documentation, and placing him on a paid leave of absence pending a fitness-for-duty exam, potentially show that Mr. Ross had a disability or should have been perceived by the County as being disabled and therefore protected under the FEHA.

Takeaways

While the court did not decide the merits of this case, the opinion does provide many different types of evidence, including absences for medical appointments, which can establish a disability or a potential disability thereby triggering an employer’s duty to engage in the interactive process with and accommodate an employee. The decision in Ross highlights the fact-specific nature of all disability cases, and further reminds employers that their obligation to their employees may go beyond what is included in an employee’s doctor’s note.

If you have any questions about this case or labor and employment matters in general, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also subscribe to our podcast, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or download our mobile app.

Written by:

Dulcinea Grantham

Partner

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

“She Said, He Said”: Appellate Court Weighs In On Fairness Requirements In Student Sexual Assault Discipline Case

July 2019
Number 33

On April 23, 2019, a California appellate court ruled against a private college for failing to properly provide an accused student with a fair hearing in a sexual assault case that led to the student being suspended from college for two years.

Doe v. Westmont College involved an alleged rape of a female college student (Victim) by a male college student (Accused) and demonstrates the necessity of fairness for all parties involved in contested student sexual assault discipline cases. In Doe v. Westmont College, the court concluded that the college denied the Accused a fair hearing when it failed to allow the Accused to fully respond to all evidence against him at a hearing before a neutral disciplinary panel, and the panel failed to question all relevant witnesses.

Background

In January 2016, multiple students gathered at night at an off-campus house for a party. The Victim and the Accused arrived separately with friends, interacted with multiple people throughout the night, and accused one another of smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol.

The Victim alleged that at some point later in the night she and the Accused were alone and agreed to go on a walk together. While walking, the Victim alleged the Accused began making comments of a sexual nature, touched her sexually without her consent, and then forced himself upon her. The Accused disputed all of the allegations, claiming that the walk never happened and that he was with a friend at the party for the entire evening.

The Victim, the Accused and multiple witnesses were interviewed by an associate dean during a preliminary investigation. The dean recommended that the allegations be put before a student discipline panel. The panel consisted of the dean and two additional staff members. The panel found in favor of the Victim and the Accused was suspended from the college for two school years. The Accused challenged this action in court.

Court of Appeal Holdings

The Court of Appeal found that the Accused had been denied a fair hearing since the panel did not hear testimony from all critical witnesses and the information and documents circulated were not shared equally with the Accused. Another factor which the court considered to a lesser extent was the role of the dean throughout the entire investigation and adjudication process. While the court did not prohibit the dean from serving on the student discipline panel, the court questioned the ability of the panel to be fair since the dean conducted the preliminary investigation, and then served on the student discipline panel. While the Court did not specifically analyze issues under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, the Court’s decision seems to be consistent with the guidance that has been issued by the Office for Civil Rights on addressing sexual assault on college campuses, which calls for due process protections for all students. California’s Title 5 regulations alsoprovide specific due process protections for all students in these types of cases and requires certain procedures be followed in processing complaints of sexual violence on campus. Some of the Title 5 requirements, such as deadlines for investigation, may differ from Title IX requirements and thus community colleges must take care to ensure compliance under all applicable regulations.

Takeaways

This is one of many recent cases that serves as a reminder for educational agencies to be impartial and to provide fundamental fairness to the accused during both investigations and student discipline hearings. When conducting student expulsion hearings, especially in contested sexual assault cases, it is recommended that colleges and districts:

  • Make available to the accused all documentary evidence that will be used at the hearing, prior to the commencement of a contested expulsion hearing.
  • Be judicious with respect to the use of “fear declarations” to ensure that declarations are only used in lieu of personal testimony in student expulsion hearings when lawful, particularly since the use of a fear declaration deprives the accused of the right to confront a witness.
  • The administrator conducting the investigation should not serve on the administrative panel conducting the expulsion hearing.

It is also important to remember that investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment and sexual assault, implicate Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and requires educational institutions to properly investigate and address any claims of sexual misconduct that have or could impact a student’s ability to participate in the educational environment. The Office of Civil Rights is currently developing regulations that will also provide direction to colleges and district in handling claims of sexual misconduct, which will likely enhance the due process rights of the accused.

Lozano Smith continues to expand its Title IX and investigations practice as the needs of public education agencies grow in this area. We offer advice and counseling, investigations, and numerous workshops on these topics. For more information and resources on Title IX, please visit our website at http://www.lozanosmith.com.

For additional information regarding student discipline matters, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also subscribe to our podcast, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or download our mobile app.

Written by:

Michael E. Smith

Partner

Gayle L. Ketchie

Associate

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Supreme Court Says Plaintiffs In Law Enforcement First Amendment Retaliation Cases Must Prove No Probable Cause For Arrest

July 2019
Number 31

Once a year, deep in the Alaskan wilderness, twelve thousand “snow hippies” exercise their right to party. Law enforcement officers chaperone them at a ratio of ten thousand to seven. At “Arctic Man,” not to be confused with “Burning Man,” there is a blizzard of skiers, snowmobilers, and bonfires. According to the popular sports blogging network SB Nation, “Arctic Man is a weeklong, booze and fossil-fueled Sledneck Revival bookended around the world’s craziest ski race.” From this setting results the latest United States Supreme Court opinion on retaliatory-arrest claims, in which the plaintiff has alleged their arrest was made in retaliation for the exercise of First Amendment free speech rights.

Background

On May 28, 2019, the United States Supreme Court decidedNieves et al. v. Bartlett. In the case, Mr. Bartlett, an authentic “Arctic Man Sledneck,” was arrested by police officers for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. According to the officers, Mr. Bartlett had been inserting himself into conversations between law enforcement and other partygoers. As the facts provide, Mr. Bartlett, with drunken and slurred speech shouted, “Don’t talk to the cops!” to two separate partygoers conferring with two separate law enforcement officers regarding issues the details of which Mr. Bartlett was wholly unaware.

According to the facts in the opinion, the first officer claimed he deescalated Mr. Bartlett’s imposition by walking away. The second officer confronted Mr. Bartlett and claimed Mr. Bartlett then approached him in an aggressive manner, which ultimately resulted in both officers arresting Mr. Bartlett. The officers held Mr. Bartlett in a temporary lockup for a short period of time, eventually releasing him, and the local district attorney’s office did not pursue any charges. Mr. Bartlett later sued the officers, claiming they violated his First Amendment free speech rights by arresting him in retaliation for his speech.

Prior to Nieves, there was no clear Supreme Court precedent requiring a plaintiff in a First Amendment retaliatory-arrest case against police officers to show the officers had no probable cause to arrest. The Ninth Circuit, however, in Ford v. Yakima (2013) held that a plaintiff can prevail on a First Amendment retaliatory-arrest claim (i.e., arrest in retaliation for exercising of free speech rights) even in the face of probable cause for the arrest. The Ninth Circuit’s holding inFord v. Yakima was designed to avoid official conduct that would “chill a person of ordinary firmness from future First Amendment activity.” In Nieves, the Supreme Court did away with the Ninth Circuit’s precedent and rule on point.

The Court’s Opinion and New Rule

Under the new rule established by Nieves, as a matter of law, for a First Amendment retaliatory -arrest claim against a law enforcement officer to have a chance to succeed, the plaintiff must establish the absence of probable cause for arrest and then show that retaliation for the exercise of free speech rights

was a substantial motivating factor behind the arrest. If the plaintiff makes this showing, law enforcement can prevail only by showing that the arrest would have been initiated without respect to retaliation.

The Supreme Court also provided a narrow exception to this general requirement for a plaintiff in such cases. According to the exception, if the plaintiff shows that despite the existence of probable cause to arrest, the officers exercised their discretion not to arrest other similarly situated individuals not engaging in the alleged protected speech, then the plaintiff need not make the required showing of no probable cause. In other words, if Mr. Bartlett had a like-minded wingman engaging in similar behavior, who did not get arrested by the same officers for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Mr. Bartlett’s First Amendment retaliation claim could have potentially proceeded to trial.

The viability of the exception to the new rule is debatable because the plaintiff bears the burden of producing objective evidence of similarly situated comparators. And it is well-settled that spontaneous statements can justify the reasonable belief of probable cause for a law enforcement officer to affect an arrest.

Takeaways

In Nieves, the Supreme Court has taken the position of encouraging proactive law enforcement. Accordingly, the standard for pursuing a citizen First Amendment retaliatory-arrest case has become more difficult to satisfy.

If you would like more information about this case or have any questions related to First Amendment retaliation claims, whether in the context law enforcement arrests, public employment, or otherwise, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also subscribe to our podcast, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or download our mobile app.

Written by:

Jenell Van Bindsbergen

Partner

Sloan R. Simmons

Partner

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.

Appellate Court Addresses Evidentiary Issue Impacting Burgeoning Field Of Child Abuse Litigation Against Public Entities

July 2019
Number 32

In D.Z v. Los Angeles Unified School District, the California Court of Appeal clarified that California laws governing the evidence offered at trial require that courts use a two-step inquiry for all such evidence: First, determine the relevance of the evidence, and second, determine whether the court should exercise its discretion to exclude such evidence. In D.Z., such inquiry was not applied by the trial court when it determined to exclude all evidence that did not involve physical touching regarding a high school teacher alleged to have sexually abused the student plaintiff.

Background

Appellant D.Z. filed a lawsuit alleging negligence by Los Angeles Unified School District, her alleged teacher abuser, and other district employees, as well as a claim against the district under the theory of respondeat superior (a doctrine which, generally speaking, permits employer liability for an employee’s negligent actions or omissions that occur within the scope of an employee’s employment). D.Z.’s negligence claims included the allegation that the district failed properly to train and supervise relevant employees related to a claim that one of her school teachers sexually abused her. D.Z. further alleged that the district knew or should have known of the danger posed by the teacher, and the district’s failure to respond appropriately to that knowledge resulted in harm to her.

As trial approached, there were numerous witnesses prepared to testify on behalf of D.Z. regarding past misconduct by the teacher and the district’s knowledge of such conduct. However, prior to trial, the trial court determined, relying on Evidence Code section 352, to exclude all evidence of the teacher’s alleged misconduct, other than evidence relating to touching of students. The trial court’s approach amounted to a bright line exclusion of all evidence of conduct other than physical touching, and excluded evidence that was relevant to appellant’s claim, including prior reports made to the school, statements made by the teacher offering female students a ride home, and other statements regarding the female anatomy made to and in front of other female students by the teacher. Also excluded were details regarding a Suspected Child Abuse Report prepared and investigated in response to the teacher’s comments.

At the close of trial, the jury found in favor of the district. D.Z. appealed.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

The Court of Appeal disagreed with the trial court and concluded that because the trial court drew a bright line in excluding all evidence of the teacher’s conduct other than physical touching, it arbitrarily excluded evidence that was relevant to D.Z.’s claims.

The Court of Appeal found that under Evidence Code section 352, evidence relevant to prove any element of the underlying cause of action could be admissible. The trial court incorrectly concluded that any evidence other than of physical touching was irrelevant. As a result, the trial court never made it to the second step of the analysis to analyze countervailing considerations of undue prejudice, confusion, or undue consumption of time in determining whether to exercise its discretion to exclude evidence.

The Court of Appeal also determined that the erroneous exclusion of relevant evidence prejudiced D.Z. The evidence excluded included a crude comment made by the teacher regarding the size of a student’s breasts, and the teacher’s inappropriate questions to students about their boyfriends and sexual experiences. Such comments were said to have been reported to the district prior to D.Z.’s first report to the school principal regarding the teacher’s conduct, and were seen as crucial to D.Z.’s argument that the district knew or should have known the risk that the teacher would commit sexual abuse of a student.

The Court of Appeal also determined that the exclusion of non-touching evidence impacted D.Z.’s ability to offer otherwise admissible evidence of prior complaints. This also led to confusion amongst witnesses when asked to discuss complaints of touching only, and to omit discussion of inappropriate comments.

Ultimately, the Court of Appeal reversed the judgment and remanded the matter for a new trial.

Takeaway

The Court of Appeal’s opinion is likely to be relied upon by plaintiffs’ attorneys to seek to introduce at trial a broader spectrum of evidence supporting claims of negligence brought against school districts in the child abuse context. Correspondingly, the action or inaction of a district in relation to an employee alleged to have abused a student may impact the relevant evidence potentially admissible at trial. This underscores the importance of school districts’ prompt and thorough handling of complaints received regarding their employees’ alleged inappropriate behavior. Upon receipt of such complaints, districts should not only document the complaint, but also the remediation and reasonable steps taken to protect students and ensure that the employee’s behavior cannot recur.

If you would like more information about this case, or have any questions related to complaints and investigations, student safety, employee training, or employee discipline, please contact the authors of this Client News Brief or an attorney at one of our eight offices located statewide. You can also subscribe to our podcast, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or download our mobile app.

Written by:

Sloan R. Simmons

Partner

©2019 Lozano Smith

As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein.