Developments of Interest

New Cases of Interest - February 28, 2012

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LaGrone v. City of Oakland (2011) 202 Cal.App.4th 932.  In this case a City employee in an engineering position working for the City of Oakland’s port department had his position renamed adding “port” to the job title.  Several years later the position was eliminated, and the City did not allow him to exercise bumping rights to obtain another job.  The evidence presented indicated that the engineer’s position generally was regarded as one of a common classification of city engineering jobs.

Both the trial court and the court of appeal held that the engineer had presented substantial evidence which supported the finding that his position was within the common classification of engineer, even though it was subsequently renamed, and that he was therefore entitled to bumping rights within the City.  The court denied his request for attorney’s fees finding however that his primary goal was reinstatement of employment rather than conveying a benefit upon the general public.

Marken v. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (2012) 202 Cal.App.4th 1250.  A teacher had been accused of sexual harassment, and the School District conducted an investigation of the allegations.  A parent sought under the California Public Records Act to get the investigation report which the teacher opposed.  The court found that the public’s right to know in this instance outweighed the teacher’s privacy interest in shielding the requested information from disclosure and in its conclusion noted the investigator’s factual finding that a number of specifically described acts or comments more than likely occurred and the District’s conclusion that the teacher’s conduct had violated its policy prohibiting the sexual harassment of students was a matter the public should be informed of.  Although the teacher, who taught high school math, was not a “high profile” public official or accused of any acts of violence, he was in a position of trust and responsibility, which was used as part of the court’s weighing analysis.

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