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Lawyer targets resort that gave discounts to furloughed state workers

July 8, 2009 |  7:33 am

Rava As state workers have watched their incomes shrink with the governor’s order that they take three days off a month without pay, one San Diego attorney sees unfairness in what others might see as kindness toward  furloughed workers.

Alfred G. Rava is calling for a settlement of thousands of dollars from a California ski resort that has offered deep discounts to furloughed state employees.

Rava wrote in a June 15 letter to Squaw Valley, in Northern California, that the discounts it offered over the winter violated state civil-rights laws by giving the employees special treatment. Squaw is one of many California businesses that has been offering a break to California’s 200,000 furloughed employees. 

“Furlough Friday” deals abound in bars, restaurants, museums and resorts in Sacramento and throughout the state. Each of these businesses could be a target for claims if a court were to rule in Rava’s favor. Rava has requested that Squaw Valley discontinue the discounts, and he called on the resort to pay $4,049 for each of his clients, as well as $2,400 in attorney fees. 

He could not be reached for comment. Now state officials are on the case. One legislator wants to deal with attorneys who would invoke civil-rights law in such a way by … drafting another law. Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Chino) has authored a bill that would legalize the discounts. 

The bill was quickly endorsed by the trade group representing California’s trial attorneys. “It would be an outrage to trivialize the [state’s] Civil Rights Act to attack businesses that simply are trying to help people struggling in the face of pay cuts and uncertain employment futures,” said Consumer Attorneys of California President Christine Spagnoli. 

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Attorney Alfred Gerard Rava.