Clark v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
The issue presented for the Court of Appeal in this case centered on whether Alicia Clark exhausted her administrative remedies under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prior to filing suit against her former employer, Arthroscopic & Laser Surgery Center of San Diego, L.P. (ALSC). Clark filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) alleging ALSC committed various acts of employment discrimination against her. While Clark’s DFEH Complaint contained an inaccuracy as to ALSC’s legal name, it clearly and unequivocally reflected Clark’s intent to name ALSC as a respondent. Specifically, Clark’s DFEH Complaint named, as respondents, “Oasis Surgery Center LLC,” and “Oasis Surgery Center, LP,” which are variants of ALSC’s registered business name, “Oasis Surgery Center.” In addition, Clark’s DFEH Complaint referenced the names of her managers, supervisors, and coworkers. The same day that Clark filed her DFEH Complaint, the DFEH issued a right-to-sue notice and Clark filed this action against “Oasis Surgery Center LLC,” and “Oasis Surgery Center, LP.” One week after filing her DFEH Complaint and the initial complaint in this action, Clark filed an amended complaint in this action, properly naming ALSC as a defendant. Notwithstanding that Clark’s DFEH Complaint clearly identified her former employer as the intended respondent, the trial court granted ALSC’s motion for summary judgment as to all of Clark’s FEHA claims brought against it because Clark “named the wrong entity in her DFEH [C]omplaint, and . . . never corrected that omission.” Clark then filed a petition for writ of mandate to the Court of Appeal, requesting that it vacate the trial court’s order granting ALSC’s motion for summary judgment. After considering the text and purpose of the relevant statutory exhaustion requirement, administrative regulations, and applicable case law, the Court of Appeal concluded Clark exhausted her administrative remedies against ALSC. "This is particularly true in a case such as this, in which the plaintiff’s error could not possibly have hampered any administrative investigation or prejudiced the defendant in any judicial proceedings." Accordingly, Clark’s writ petition was granted and the trial court directed to vacate its order granting ALSC’s motion for summary judgment.