Settlement in mediation shortly before trial representing the Defendants, a large employer and one of its supervisors, in a lawsuit filed by two Plaintiffs, both of whom were current employees, when they sued. Their claims were for pattern and practice national origin, wage and race discrimination, harassment and retaliation by various managerial employees, defamation and unfair business practices in violation of Bus. & Prof. Code Sec. 17200 et. seq.
The Defendants contended that the Plaintiffs based nearly all of their allegations of discrimination and harassment on long-stale allegations which they admitted occurred more than two years before they filed their lawsuit. As the statute of limitations on such claims is one year, nearly all of their claims were time-barred. As California law does not permit claims of “continuing violations” once a discrimination litigant believes that things will not get better, the employees could not rely on the continuing violation theory to avoid the statute of limitations. Because both employees admitted that only a handful of stray remarks occurred during the one-year period before filing a charge with the EEOC and DFEH, they could not establish the severe or pervasive harassment necessary to prevail. Even if Plaintiffs could win their case, they suffered no damages. Not only did they both remain employed by the Company, they received $20,000 raises after complaining to the Company of unlawful conduct. This critical fact also defeated their retaliation claim as it showed that they were not subjected to an adverse employment action. Plaintiffs’ remaining claims for defamation and unpaid expenses were frivolous.