Diego v. Pilgrim United Church of ChristAnnotate this Case
Plaintiff-appellant Cecilia Diego sued her former employer, the Pilgrim United Church of Christ, alleging wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Diego alleged she was terminated as assistant director of Pilgrim;s preschool as a result of the director's mistaken belief that she lodged a complaint with the Community Care Licensing Division of the state Department of Social Services, which resulted in a surprise inspection of the preschool. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Pilgrim United on the basis that, because Diego in fact had not made a complaint to Licensing (or otherwise engaged in activity associated with protected disclosure of alleged wrongdoing), her termination of employment did not violate public policy as a matter of law. The Court of Appeal found that Diego met her summary judgment burden of establishing triable issues of fact as to whether Pilgrim was more likely motivated by a discriminatory reason (retaliation) than by its proffered explanation (insubordination) in its termination decision. As such, the Court reversed the trial court with respect to the public policy issue Diego raised, and remanded the case for further proceedings.