Artemio Elguea was a pizza delivery driver for Pizza Hut.. His general manager was Alex Rodriguez.
Elguea alleged that Rodriguez discriminated against him on the basis of his age – reducing his hours, stealing his tips, and allowing other employees (who were related to Rodriguez) to throw food at him. Elguea’s doctor placed him on medical leave for stress, and he never returned to Pizza Hut.
Elguea brought suit against PIzza Hut alleging age discrimination, related causes of action under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and other torts.
While this action was pending, Elguea was also pursuing multiple workers’ compensation claims. The four workers’ compensation cases were resolved by two simultaneous settlements, each for slightly less than $25,000 (to avoid MSA approval requirements). Each Compromise & Release was signed by Elguea, and one of his workers’ compensation attorneys, Diana Sparagna.
Each C&R had an addendum which specifically stated the following: “This Compromise & Release also includes resolution of all claims arising under any state or federal law regulation, including the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, federal and state wage and hour laws, federal and state False Claims Acts, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the California Family Rights Act, the California Labor Code,…….(etc)”
Pizza Hut then moved for judgment on the pleadings in the civil case, based on the releases and, specifically, the broad language in the addenda to the C&R. The court granted judgment on the pleadings without leave to amend. The Court of Appeal affirmed in the unpublished case of Elguea v. Southern Cal. Pizza Co., LLC. Elquea also attempted to set aside the C&R at the WCAB, but his Petition in this regard was denied.
Elguea argued, among other things, that he does not understand English and was never informed in the workers’ compensation action that he was releasing his civil claims. Elguea asserted that he was represented by counsel in the FEHA action at the time of the workers’ compensation settlement, and nobody informed his FEHA counsel that the FEHA complaint was being addressed by the workers’ compensation settlement.
The Court of Appeal ruled that If the parties to the workers’ compensation proceeding include in their release an addendum which reflects an intention to reach beyond workers’ compensation, that addendum may be given effect and may encompass FEHA claims. (Jefferson v. Department of Youth Authority (2002) 28 Cal.4th 299, 301) “Given this controlling authority, we easily resolve the issues raised by Elguea on appeal.”
“Indeed, this case is stronger than Jefferson, in that the addendum to the workers’ compensation releases Elguea signed here expressly encompasses FEHA claims. In short, the trial court correctly concluded that a release which specifically includes FEHA claims does, in fact, release FEHA claims.”