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Marian Garcia began her employment with Poker Flat in 2006 when she was hired to be Poker Flat’s office manager. Poker Flat is a property owners association located at Lake Tulloch in Calaveras County.

Poker Flat maintained a boat launch and docks on the lake and charged association members to use these facilities. Members would pay a fee for a boat sticker and gate card to access the gated community and boat launch. At some point a financial discrepancy came to the attention of the Association, and Garcia was placed on administrative leave while an accounting firm investigated the issue. Her absence resulted in a greater work burden for her assistant Stacy Halstead.

Her assistant became frustrated over her working situation, and posted an expletive ridden message on Facebook about her situation, blaming Garcia as the “thief” who was responsible.

Subsequently the accountant’s report recounted significant irregularities, including a lack of deposited money to match member payment entries in the ledger book. The following day, Garcia’s employment with Poker Flat was terminated effective immediately

Marian Garcia sued her former employer, Poker Flat Property Owners Association, Inc., alleging she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for reports she made to Poker Flat’s board members concerning sexual harassment and other claimed violations of law.

The trial court granted summary judgment in Poker Flat’s favor. With respect to Garcia’s wrongful termination and retaliation causes of action, the trial court concluded Poker Flat’s evidence established that Garcia’s termination was for a legitimate, non-retaliatory basis. And that she failed to demonstrate any causal nexus between her complaints about Poker Flat’s claimed misconduct, “occurring in almost every case years before her eventual termination,” and that termination.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal in the unpublished case of Garcia v Poker Flat Property Owners Association.

The Court noted that “the trial court’s ruling must be affirmed because Garcia’s causes of action for wrongful termination and retaliation fail as a matter of law and her remaining causes of action against Poker Flat are either barred by workers’ compensation exclusivity or also fail as a matter of law.”

Poker Flat’s showing of a nonretaliatory reason for terminating Garcia’s employment entitled the association to judgment as a matter of law unless Garcia could “show there was nonetheless a triable issue that decisions leading to [her] termination were actually made on the prohibited basis of [retaliation].”

Labor Code section 3602, subdivision (a) establishes the exclusive remedy provisions, which applies unless certain exceptions are met. Subdivision (b) of this section sets forth three circumstances in which “[a]n employee . . . may bring an action at law for damages against the employer, as if this division did not apply,” none of which apply in this case.