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Court overturns Santa Monica bus driver's discrimination award

February 7, 2013 | 11:32 am

Even if discrimination plays a role in a worker’s firing, an employer is not liable for damages if the employee would have been fired anyway because of poor performance, the California Supreme Court decided Thursday.

In a widely watched case, the state high court overturned a jury award to a Santa Monica bus driver who was fired after revealing she was pregnant. Her employer insisted she would have been fired regardless of her pregnancy because she had had two accidents and was late to work twice.

Although a worker may not collect compensation, the employer can be ordered to pay the worker's attorney fees and court costs if a jury determines that discrimination substantially motivated the firing, the court decided.

A judge may also order the company to refrain from discrimination in the future. The ruling, written by Justice Goodwin Liu, was 6-0, with one justice not participating.

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-- Maura Dolan

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