Santillan v. USA Waste of California, No. 15-55238 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff, a 53-year-old garbage truck driver, filed suit against USA Waste, his employer of 32 years, alleging wrongful termination based on age discrimination and retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment for USA Waste. The court held that the district court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of USA Waste because plaintiff established a prima facie case under both his age discrimination and retaliation theories, and USA Waste failed to introduce any evidence that it had a legitimate reason for firing him. In this case, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), Pub.L. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359, did not require proof of employment eligibility from plaintiff, and USA Waste could not make plaintiff's reinstatement contingent on verification of his immigration status because doing so would violate California public policy. Furthermore, plaintiff's use of an attorney was activity protected by California public policy, USA Waste fired plaintiff because he was represented by his attorney at the Settlement Agreement negotiations, and the district court erred by holding that USA Waste provided a legitimate reason for firing plaintiff. Therefore, the court concluded that USA Waste failed to meet its burden as to plaintiff's claim based on retaliation discrimination. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied plaintiff's oral request for leave to amend the complaint eight months after the filing deadline. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings.