Bahra v. County of San Bernardino, No. 18-55789 (9th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit alleging that CFS and two of its employees fired him from his position as a social services practitioner in retaliation for his whistleblowing activities, in violation of California Labor Code section 1102.5 and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The County's Civil Service Commission upheld the termination and denied plaintiff's appeal, and the district court dismissed the action.
The Ninth Circuit held that the Commission's order did not preclude plaintiff's section 1102.5 claim for retaliation in light of Taswell v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 232 Cal. Rptr. 3d 628, 643 (Ct. App. 2018). In Taswell, the California Court of Appeal applied a legislative-intent exception and held that administrative findings by a state agency do not preclude claims for retaliation brought under section 1102.5. However, the panel's conclusion regarding legislative intent did not extend to plaintiff's claim under section 1983, which was precluded by the Commission's order. In this case, plaintiff had a full opportunity to litigate the propriety of his termination before the administrative agency, as evidenced by the comprehensive evidentiary record and the availability of judicial review. Accordingly, the panel affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.