Rickards v. United Parcel Sev., Inc.

An employment complaint initiated online and pursuant to California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) was deemed to be properly verified when plaintiffs’ Attorney completed such online but failed to include his signature.

In this case the plaintiff employee filed a claim against a defendant employer, alleging various violations of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The employer sought to dismiss the case based on a procedural defect, arguing in pertinent part that the plaintiff had failed to file a verified administrative complaint of discrimination with Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”), in particular where the plaintiff’s attorney had filed an online complaint form through the DFEH’s automated online system and had received a right to sue letter. Such procedural defect was largely based on plaintiff’s admission that he was not provided any knowledge regarding the filing of the complaint, although later the plaintiff and attorney attempted to characterize that the attorney was authorized to file the complaint on plaintiff’s behalf. The trial in finding defendant’s argument persuasive, granted defendant’s motion for summary judgement on the finding that plaintiff had indeed failed to file a verified complaint.

Court of Appeals

In reversing the decision of the trial court, the California Court of Appeals determined that in this particular case, the employment complaint that alleging various violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) was properly verified, especially where the DFEH regulations themselves, set forth that an online verified complaint does not require a signature and in particular, where the DFEH online system was specifically designed for use by plaintiffs with attorneys, wherein the attorney verification was deemed sufficient.

In other words, the Court of Appeals reasoned that typically all employment based complaints must be properly verified, but when it comes to effectuating such complaints via DFEH’s online system, verification is already implied and when considering that such online verification system does not require a signature, then any complaint submitted online is deemed to be properly verified. The significance of this case is that there are certain procedural requirements, prerequisites to filing suit, and other filing requirements that itself can lend itself to the file complaint being defective and as a result, the plaintiff’s complaint being deficient and subject to dismissal. As such, plaintiffs must be very conscientious of such procedural requirements not only at the initial stage of filing but throughout the entire process.

Employment based claims involving a large employer requires a law firm that is experienced, competent, and knowledgeable concerning the complexities of employment injury claims and the recovery of attorney fees. If you have any employment-related injury claims and are considering contact the Orange County Employment Lawyers at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside, and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.