Friday, October 12, 2012

Speaking Out Against the Unclean Hands and After-Acquired Evidence Defenses: Bryan Schwartz Authors Cover Feature in Law Review

Bryan Schwartz, principal of Bryan Schwartz Law, co-authored the featured article in the current edition of the California Labor & Employment Law Review, a Bar-published journal that reaches thousands of lawyers in the field statewide.

The story advocates for limiting employers' application of the overused unclean hands and after-acquired evidence defenses. The article is especially timely in light of the California Supreme Court's pending review of Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., 133 Cal.Rptr.3d 392, review granted November 16, 2011. In Salas, an undocumented ex-employee charged the company with disability discrimination and a denied, reasonable return-to-work accommodation. The employer sought to defend based upon the worker's undococumented status, saying that he had no right to work anyhow and so could not seek relief.

The trial court barred Salas' claims for relief based on the unclean hands and after-acquired evidence doctrines, and the court of appeal affirmed the judgment, but the Supreme Court of California may now decide to what extent, if any, California law should embrace these defenses. In the view of workers' rights advocates, among other problems, these defenses unfairly let wrongdoing employers get off scot-free (or with only limited liability) when employers violate important public policies, like the prohibition on disability discrimination. Indeed, in 2002, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 1818, providing that undocumented workers and job applicants are entitled to all civil remedies under state law, except reinstatement - and the Supreme Court will be considering the interplay between this statute and the unclean hands and after-acquired evidence defenses.

The article, co-authored with prominent defense attorney Baldwin Lee, of Allen Matkins, representing the employers' perspective, and with great assistance from 2012 Employee Justice Fellow at Bryan Schwartz Law, Joseph Spadola (Berkeley Law '13), is too lengthy to reproduce in this blog, but the entire article is available by clicking here.

If you have suffered discrimination, retaliation, or wage violations, and the employer is trying to deny you relief based upon the after-acquired evidence doctrine or the unclean hands defense, contact Bryan Schwartz Law today.

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