Ralph Villalobos v. Twc Administration

NOT FOR PUBLICATION FILED DEC 26 2017 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS MOLLY C. DWYER, CLERK U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT RALPH VILLALOBOS, No. 16-55288 Plaintiff-Appellant, D.C. No. 2:15-cv-02808-R-PLA v. TWC ADMINISTRATION LLC, MEMORANDUM* Defendant-Appellee. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California Manuel L. Real, District Judge, Presiding Argued and Submitted December 6, 2017 Pasadena, California Before: CANBY and REINHARDT, Circuit Judges, and BLOCK,** District Judge. * This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3. ** The Honorable Frederic Block, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, sitting by designation. 1 Ralph Villalobos (“Villalobos”) appeals the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of TWC Administration LLC (“TWC”) on his state law claims for disability and age discrimination, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940. Villalobos served as a Direct Sales Representative (“DSR”) for TWC and its predecessors for twenty-four years before he was terminated in February 2014. Because “discrimination claims are frequently difficult to prove without a full airing of the evidence and an opportunity to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses,” McGinest v. GTE Serv. Corp., 360 F.3d 1103, 1112 (9th Cir. 2004), “it should not take much for a plaintiff in a discrimination case to overcome a summary judgment motion,” France v. Johnson, 795 F.3d 1170, 1175 (9th Cir. 2015). California courts look to federal precedent governing analogous federal anti-discrimination laws when interpreting FEHA claims. Guz v. Bechtel Nat’l, Inc., 8 P.3d 1089, 1113 (Cal. 2000). The district court had diversity jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and we have jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We reverse on all five state law claims. 1. We reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment on Villalobos’s disability discrimination claim. Section 12940(a) of FEHA prohibits employers 2 from firing an employee “because of” disability. Nadaf-Rahrov v. Neiman Marcus Grp., Inc., 166 Cal. App. 4th 952, 962 (2008). Under this section, Villalobos must show that (1) he was fired because of disability and (2) he “could perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation (in the parlance of [federal law], that he [] is a qualified individual with a disability).” Id. Villalobos has presented direct evidence that he was fired because of his disabilities. He went on leave because of his anxiety, depression, and insomnia. TWC explained that it fired Villalobos because of “his repeated, prolonged leaves of absence which rendered him unable or unwilling to work.” Terminating an employee for conduct that results from a disability is equivalent to terminating an employee based on the disability itself because “conduct resulting from a disability is considered to be part of the disability, rather than a separate basis for termination.” Humphrey v. Mem’l Hosps. Ass’n, 239 F.3d 1128, 1139-40 (9th ...

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