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Tiffany Aveau sustained a work-related injury to her back on September 6, 2016, and was placed on an extended leave of absence until September 15, 2017. Russian River terminated Aveau on September 18, 2017.

On April 16, 2018, Aveau filed a workers’ compensation petition pursuant to Labor Code section 132a, alleging Russian River had discriminated against her when it fired her due to her work-related injury.

More than a year after her termination, Aveau filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), alleging Russian River discriminated against her due to her work-related injury. That same day, November 20, 2018, the DFEH issued a Notice of Case Closure and Right to Sue letter.

On June 17, 2019, Aveau filed a civil complaint against Russian River alleging three causes of action for wrongful termination. Russian River filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that Aveau failed to comply with DFEH’s one-year filing requirement and, as such, Aveau’s “cause of action for Wrongful Termination is barred by the applicable Statute of Limitations.”

The court subsequently granted Russian River’s motion. The Court of Appeal reversed in the unpublished case of Aveau v. 23 Bottles of Beer.

On appeal Aveau contended the trial court erred by summarily adjudicating her wrongful termination in violation of public policy claim because it was timely brought within the applicable statute of limitations set forth in Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, which provides a two-year statute of limitations for tort actions.

Russian River maintained that Aveau’s claim is barred by FEHA’s one-year statute of limitations. Alternatively, Russian River asserts that even if the two-year statute of limitations applies, Aveau’s claim still fails for failing to adequately plead a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Both of Russian River’s arguments were rejected.

Citing Prue v. Brady Co./San Diego, 242 Cal.App.4th 1367 (2015) 196 Cal.Rptr.3d 68, the Court concluded that FEHA’s one-year statute of limitations does not apply to Aveau’s common law tort cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of FEHA’s public policy against disability discrimination, and Aveau’s failure to exhaust her administrative remedies for the underlying FEHA claims does not, standing alone, bar her wrongful termination claim.

Thus the summary judgment for the first and second causes of action – (1) disability discrimination in violation of Government Code section 12940, subdivision (a), (2) failure to engage in a timely, good faith interactive process (§ 12940, subd. (n)), – were appropriate.

However summary judgment for the third cause of action – wrongful termination in violation of the public policy articulated under the Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) (Gov. Code, § 12920 et seq.) – was reversed. Instead, Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 applies, providing a two-year statute of limitations for tort actions based on injuries to plaintiffs caused by the wrongful act or neglect of others.