Manuel v. Super. Ct.

Filed 8/26/22 CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA SIXTH APPELLATE DISTRICT RIGOBERTO JOSE MANUEL, H048665 (Santa Clara Petitioner, Super. Ct. No. 19CV355747) v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SANTA CLARA COUNTY Respondent, BRIGHTVIEW LANDSCAPE SERVICES, INC., Real Party in Interest. I. INTRODUCTION Petitioner Rigoberto Jose Manuel brought an action for wrongful termination after he was injured during the course of his employment with real party in interest BrightView Landscape Services, Inc. (BrightView). The parties dispute whether Manuel’s employment was terminated by BrightView in retaliation for his job injury or whether he failed to return to work due to federal immigration authorities questioning his documentation of his eligibility to work in the United States. After Manuel objected to BrightView’s written discovery requests inquiring into his immigration status, BrightView brought a motion for an order compelling Manuel to provide further responses to its discovery requests, which the trial court granted in its November 16, 2020 order. Manuel challenged the order by filing a petition for writ of mandate in this court. In his petition, Manuel argues that the trial court abused its discretion in granting BrightView’s motion to compel further responses to written discovery because BrightView did not meet its burden, pursuant to Senate Bill No. 1818 (Stats. 2002, ch. 1071, § 1, p. 6913) and its statutory enactments, to show by clear and convincing evidence that inquiry into his immigration status was necessary to comply with federal immigration law. For the reasons stated below, we agree. We will therefore issue a peremptory writ of mandate directing the trial court to vacate its November 16, 2020 order and to enter a new order denying BrightView’s motion for an order compelling Manuel to provide further responses to written discovery. II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND A. The First Amended Complaint The currently operative pleading is the first amended complaint (complaint), which names BrightView as the defendant. According to the complaint’s allegations, Manuel was employed by BrightView as an irrigation technician from 2007 to 2018. In January 2018 Manuel injured his back while on the job. Manuel alleges that BrightView initially refused to take him to the company medical clinic and then had him sign a waiver for medical treatment. However, after several days of back pain Manuel went to an occupational medicine clinic accompanied by another BrightView employee. A physician examined Manuel, determined that he had sustained a back injury, and returned him to work with certain restrictions. After Manuel returned to work and completed a full shift on January 22, 2018, Manuel’s immediate supervisor told him not to return to work and BrightView terminated his employment. Based on these and other allegations, Manuel asserts several causes of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy (Labor Code, §§ 232.5, 1102.5, 6310, 6400 et seq.; Gov. Code, §§ 12900, 12945.2), and a cause of action for failure to permit employee to inspect or copy records (Labor Code, §§ 226, subds. (c) & (d), 1198.5, subd. (b)). Manuel …

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