Home > Uncategorized > California Court Holds That A Business Judgment Jury Instruction Should Have Been Given In Pregnancy Discrimination Case

California Court Holds That A Business Judgment Jury Instruction Should Have Been Given In Pregnancy Discrimination Case

December 12, 2012

California court holds that a business judgment jury instruction should have been given in a pregnancy discrimination case, reversing the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff

A new California case involving Plaintiff’s claims against her employer for pregnancy discrimination, Julie Gilman Veronese v. Lucasfilm, Ltd., Court of Appeal State of California, First Appellate District, Case No. A129535 and A131660, December 10, 2012.  The jury found for the Plaintiff awarding $93,830 in economic damages and $20,000 in noneconomic damages, and $1,157,411 in attorneys’ fees .  The employer appealed on several grounds.  In pertinent part the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court determining that the court failed to give proper jury instructions including that the court should have given a business judgment jury instruction similar in wording to the following:

“You may not find that _______ (Defendant) discriminated or retaliated against _________ (Plaintiff) based on a belief that _______(Defendant) made a wrong or unfair decision.  Likewise, you cannot find liability for discrimination or retaliation if you find that ________ (Defendant) made an error in business judgment.  Instead, _________ (Defendant) can only be liable to ________ (Plaintiff) if the decisions made were motivated by discrimination or retaliation related to her being pregnant.”

The upshot, you can bet that a request by the defendant for the above jury instruction or a close version will now become standard in employment discrimination cases.   The instruction is intended to clarify for the jury that an employer’s wrong, unwise, mistaken or even stupid decision in and by itself is not grounds for a finding of discrimination liability against the employer.

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Categories: Uncategorized