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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Estrada v. City of Los Angeles: Court Issues FEHA Decision on Volunteer v. Employee Status

In Estrada v. City of Los Angeles (7/24/13) --- Cal.App.4th ---, the plaintiff was a volunteer police reserve officer who sued the City for disability discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The Court of Appeal affirmed a judgment for the City, holding that the fact that the City its volunteer officers with workers compensation benefits did not make them employees for FEHA purposes.  

The Court looked to the definition of "employee" contained in the regulations enacted by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) to implement the FEHA. The regulations define an employee as "any individual under the direction and control of an employer under any appointment or contract of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written." Cal. Code Regs., tit. 2, § 7286.5, subd. (b). Slip op. at 5. 

The Court concluded that although the plaintiff was "appointed" to a volunteer position, he was not "appointed" to an employee position under the City's civil service rules. Slip op. at 11-13. The fact that the plaintiff received workers' compensation benefits as a volunteer officer did not change this conclusion. Slip op. at 13-15.  

The opinion is available here

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