Nigro v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 784 F.3d. 495 (9th Cir. 2015)

Employee presented a triable issue of fact sufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgement under FEHA even though employee’s evidence was limited to his own self-serving declaration.

The Factual Background

Following the termination of his employment, Plaintiff alleged disability discrimination in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. In opposition to Defendant’s motion for summary judgement, Plaintiff submitted a declaration describing a conversation with his supervisor claiming it was stated that “If you’re going to stick with being sick, it’s not helping your situation [and] it is what it is [and] you’re not getting paid and you’re not going to be accommodated.” Plaintiff also testified in his deposition that he was told he was “not going to be here anymore” The federal district court granted Defendant’s motion, finding that Plaintiff failed to establish a causal relationship between his disability and termination. In finding for Defendant, the Court disregarded Plaintiff’s declaration and deposition testimony on the basis it was self-serving.

The Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that Plaintiff submitted sufficient evidence to establish a triable issue of fact as to causation. The Court reasoned that since Plaintiff’s evidence was admissible, the self-serving nature of the evidence was not a sufficient factor in evaluating a summary judgment motion, but rather an issue of credibility to be determined by the trier of fact and that a self-serving declaration should only be disregarded where it states only inadmissible conclusions.

Employment based claims involving a large employer requires a law firm that is experienced, competent, and knowledgeable concerning the complexities of employment based classifications including bona-fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ). If you have any employment-related dispute and are considering suing your employer for discriminatory conduct contact the Orange County Employment Lawyers at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside, and Los Angeles. Call 949.375.4734.

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