California Court Properly Dismissed Employer’s Civil Rights Claim Against Employee
Balubhai Patel and various entities sued Manuel Chavez, the former on-site property manager of the Stuart Hotel, which was owned and operated by Patel and the other plaintiffs. Plaintiffs alleged a federal civil rights violation (42 U.S.C. § 1983) against Chavez based upon his allegedly false testimony given during a labor commissioner hearing in which Chavez was awarded $235,000 in unpaid wages, penalties and interest against the plaintiffs; Patel, et al., also sued two Labor Commissioner officials and sought $10 million in damages. The trial court granted Chavez’s anti-SLAPP motion and dismissed the complaint on the ground that it arose from the testimony Chavez gave before the Labor Commissioner and that such testimony was absolutely privileged pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code § 47(b) (the litigation privilege). The trial court also dismissed the claims against the two Labor Commissioner officials. The Court of Appeal affirmed the dismissal of the claims, holding that the anti-SLAPP procedure can be applied to a federal claim filed in state court.