Lawson v. PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc. (2022) 12 Cal.5th 703. The Supreme Court in response to a request from the 9th Circuit holds that Labor Code § 1102.6 which provides the underlying framework for a whistleblower retaliation claim contemplates that the employee’s burden is to establish that retaliation was a contributing factor by a preponderance of the evidence, after which the burden shifts to the employer to demonstrate a legitimate, independent reason for the adverse action by clear and convincing evidence and § 1102.6 does not require the employee to show that the employer’s nonretaliatory reason is pretextual.
Vines v. O’Reilly Auto Enterprises, LLC (2022) 74 Cal.App.5th 174. This is an action brought by an employee under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act in which the employee claims race and age based discrimination, harassment and retaliation. The employee won on the retaliation issues, and the trial court apportioned the attorneys’ fees that were requested. The court of appeal reversed this finding that the attorneys’ fees should not have been reduced because the employee had an unsuccessful discrimination and harassment claim, in that the claims were sufficiently related and factually intertwined with a successful retaliation claim.
Falcon Brands, Inc. v. Mousavi & Lee, LLP (2022) 74 Cal.App.4th 506. This is a SLAPP case. The court held that an extortion claim found in a cross-complaint was not a claim that arose from protected activity and therefore wasn’t subject to the SLAPP statute and that cause of action came under the illegality exception to SLAPP protection. There was a separate cause of action for intentional interference with a contract and striking that cause of action was appropriate because the statements that were made in furtherance of contemplated litigation were not alleged to be illegal.
Blue Mountain Enterprises, LLC v. Owen (2022) 74 Cal.App.5th 537. In this case a non-solicitation covenant that was executed in connection with the sale of a business was upheld as being supported by the sale of a seller’s entire ownership interest. A subsequent letter by the seller to customers was a solicitation, not merely an announcement. Because the exception applies, the court does not have to analyze whether the prohibition against solicitation would otherwise also be barred by the prohibition against competition pursuant to Business and Professions Code § 16600, the exception of a sale of good will allowing both types of covenants to be enforced.
Gregory L. McCoy