Denise Kennedy, filed a civil action against MUFG Union Bank which alleged various claims arising out of her former employment with the Bank.
She alleged that for a period of about three months, she was subject to racial discrimination and harassment because she was African-American, causing her to ultimately take disability leave due to mental stress.
While on disability leave, her position was eliminated as part of a regionwide restructuring by Union Bank. Plaintiff was informed she remained an employee while on leave and would be eligible for consideration to fill alternative positions through Union Bank’s job posting leave program once she was released back to work without restrictions or with permanent restrictions.
Plaintiff alleged that the failure to pay her severance or allow her to return to her previous position on a modified schedule constituted disability discrimination and an effective termination.
Plaintiff admitted in her deposition that in December 2015, she was determined “totally disabled” and initiated a workers’ compensation claim on that basis. She admitted that she settled her workers’ compensation claim in July 2016 and agreed to submit a voluntary resignation from employment as part of that settlement. She stated that it was her understanding that she remained an employee of Union Bank until the time of her resignation. Excerpts from her deposition including this admission were successfully used by the employer in a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted.
The court of appeal agreed in the unpublished case of Kennedy v. MUFG Union Bank
Defendants produced a copy of the application for compromise and release submitted to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and a copy of the executed voluntary resignation dated July 2016. Clearly, this evidence was sufficient to negate any claims premised upon the existence of a termination, as it showed that plaintiff was not terminated and instead voluntarily resigned her employment with Union Bank. Absent a threshold factual showing of a termination, there can be no claim for wrongful termination and no claim that plaintiff was “terminated” due to discriminatory motives or impermissible retaliation. This showing was sufficient to shift the burden on summary judgment and required plaintiff to produce evidence to show a triable issue of material fact.