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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Jumaane v. City of Los Angeles: Continuing Violation Doctrine Did Not Apply, and Plaintiff Did Not Prove Discrimination, Harassment, or Retaliation During Limitations Period

In Jumaane v. City of Los Angeles (11/10/15) --- Cal.App.4th ---, Jabari Jumaane sued the City of Los Angeles for disparate impact and disparate treatment discrimination based on race (African-American), harassment based on race, and retaliation. Jumaane alleged that the adverse employment actions against him included suspensions in June, 1999, and again in April, 2011. Jumaane filed his DFEH complaint on April 16, 2002, and filed suit thereafter.

The City prevailed in the first trial, held in 2007, but the trial court reversed based on juror misconduct, and the Court of Appeal affirmed. In the second trial, held in 2013, Jumaane prevailed on all claims, except his disparate treatment discrimination claim. The trial court denied the City's nonsuit motion, the City appealed, and the Court of Appeal reversed, holding as follows:

Jumaane could not recover for acts occurring more than one year before he filed his DFEH complaint. For the continuing violation doctrine to apply, the plaintiff must prove that conduct occurring outside the limitations period was (1) similar or related to the conduct that occurred earlier; (2) the conduct was reasonably frequent; and (3) the conduct had not yet become permanent. While substantial evidence supported a finding as to the first two elements, Jumaane failed to show that the conduct taking place in the 1990s had not become permanent by the time of his June, 1999, suspension.

Substantial evidence did not support a finding of disparate impact race discrimination during the limitations period. Jumaane failed to meet his burden to show that any facially neutral discipline policy of the City's had a significant adverse impact on African-Americans. While Jumaane introduced evidence to show that there "appeared to be a disproportionate amount of discipline against Blacks" during the early 1990s, this evidence did not show disparate treatment during that time period, let lone during the time period at issue.

Substantial evidence did not support a finding of harassment based on race during the limitations period. The only alleged harassment during the limitations period was the suspension in April, 2011, but a disciplinary suspension "does not constitute harassment under FEHA as a matter of law."

Substantial evidence did not support a finding of retaliation during the limitations period. Assuming for the sake of argument that Jumaane proved a prima facie case of retaliation, he could not demonstrate that the City's proffered legitimate reason for suspending him was pretextual.

Jumaane's claims for failure to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation also failed.

The opinion is available here.

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