Guerrero v. California Department of Corrections and RehabilitationAnnotate this Case
Guerrero came from Mexico to the U.S. with his parents in 1990 at age 11. In 1995, he created a false Social Security number (SSN) to get a job. He secured a legitimate SSN in 2007. He became a U.S. citizen in 2011. He applied to become a correctional officer with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). He passed written and physical exams and was placed on the eligibility list. CDCR’s background questionnaire asked, “Have you ever had or used a social security number other than the one you used on this questionnaire?” Guerrero answered “yes” and explained. Based on that answer, CDCR informed Guerrero he was no longer eligible to become a correctional officer. The State Personnel Board upheld the decision. Guerro filed a federal suit, citing title VII; California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (Government Code, 12940); national origin discrimination in a state-conducted program (Government Code 11135); 42 U.S.C. 1983; and state equal protection and due process violations. The federal court dismissed the state law claims on Eleventh Amendment grounds, effectively limiting potential money recovery to backpay. To recoup damages, Guerrero filed suit in state court. After Guerrero won judgment in the federal action, the superior court dismissed his state claims under California claim preclusion principles. The court of appeal reversed, reasoning that federal law, not California law, governs the preclusive effect of the federal judgment, and provides an exception to claim preclusion where jurisdictional limitations in a prior suit blocked a request for complete relief.