New Case Law: Rickards v. UPS

Attorney case law update – Rickards v. United Parcel Service., Inc (2012) 206 Cal.App.1523. Branigan Robertson is a California employment lawyer who focuses his practice on wrongful termination.

Attorney Case Facts

Rickards sued UPS for violations of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). In order to do so, Plaintiff must obtain a “right-to-sue” letter from the Department of Fair Employment & Housing (“DFEH”). Plaintiff’s attorney acquired the right-to-sue letter on Rickard’s behalf. However, the defendant made a motion for summary judgment on the ground that Plaintiff had not filed a verified administrative complaint (which means it was not signed by the Plaintiff). Plaintiff’s attorney had filed a form complaint through the DFEH’s automated online system and hand received the right-to-sue letter. Plaintiff later stated that his attorney was authorized to file the complaint on Plaintiff’s behalf.

Court Disposition – Plaintiff Lawyers are Pleased

The California Court of Appeal found that the complaint was properly verified and the trial court erred in denying the motion on that ground. Defendant argued that the 2011 DFEH regulations, which state that an online verified complaint does not require a signature, nevertheless did not nullify the requirement that an attorney can verify a complaint only by signing his or her own name. Moreover, UPS argued that the regulations did not apply retroactively. However, the court found that plaintiff attorney’s can verify these administrative complaints as long as they are personally subject to penalties for perjury. Thus, the attorney verification was sufficient.

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