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Nazir v. United Airlines, Inc.

Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Two

October 9, 2009, Filed


Case Summary

Procedural Posture

Plaintiff employee appealed a summary judgment from the Superior Court of San Mateo County (California), which ruled in favor of defendants, his former employer and a supervisor, on claims of employment discrimination and related causes of action, including harassment under Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (j)(1), and retaliation under § 12940, subd. (h).


The employee repeatedly complained to his supervisor and to the human resources department about harassment from coworkers based on his color, religion, and national origin. The supervisor promoted the employee but later terminated him after he was accused of assaulting a coworker. The court held that a blanket ruling sustaining all but one of a voluminous number of defense objections was error. The court concluded that there was a triable issue of fact as to harassment because the employee exhausted his administrative remedies by submitting materials that adequately identified the harassment claim and because the continuing violation doctrine could make the claim timely. As to discrimination, there was a triable issue of fact as to pretext because the purported assault was inadequately investigated and because the same supervisor's involvement in both the promotion and the termination created only an inference of nondiscriminatory intent under Evid. Code, § 600, subd. (b), not a presumption under § 600, subd. (a). In light of the evidence of pretext, the employer was not entitled to summary judgment as to retaliation, although the supervisor could have no individual liability.


The court reversed the summary judgment, affirmed summary adjudications as to three causes of action against the supervisor, affirmed summary adjudications as to a waived claim of disability discrimination and claims of fraud and battery, and otherwise reversed the summary adjudications.

LexisNexis® Headnotes



Civil Procedure > Judgments > Summary Judgment > Partial Summary Judgment

HN1  Partial Summary Judgment

A defense-side motion for summary adjudication is appropriate if one or more causes of action has no merit. Code of Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (f)(1). Summary adjudication must completely dispose of the cause of action to which it is directed.


Civil Procedure > ... > Summary Judgment > Entitlement as Matter of Law > General Overview

HN2 Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (c), provides that summary judgment is properly granted when there is no triable issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.


Civil Procedure > ... > Summary Judgment > Evidentiary Considerations > Absence of Essential Element

Civil Procedure > ... > Summary Judgment > Burdens of Proof > Nonmovant Persuasion & Proof

HN3  Absence of Essential Element

Defendants moving for summary judgment can meet their burden by demonstrating that a cause of action has no merit, which they can do by showing that one or more elements of the cause of action cannot be separately established. Code Civ. Proc., § 437c, subd. (o)(1). Once the defendants meet this burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show the existence of a triable issue of material fact. § 437c, subd. (p)(2).

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178 Cal. App. 4th 243 ; 100 Cal. Rptr. 3d 296 ; 2009 Cal. App. LEXIS 1659 ; 107 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 967; 158 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P60,885

IFTIKHAR NAZIR, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. UNITED AIRLINES, INC., et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Subsequent History: Time for Granting or Denying Review Extended Nazir (Iftikhar) v. United Airlines, Inc., 2010 Cal. LEXIS 104 (Cal., Jan. 8, 2010)

Request denied by Iftikhar v. United Airlines, 2010 Cal. LEXIS 1593 (Cal., Feb. 3, 2010)

Prior History:  [1] Superior Court of San Mateo County, No. CIV458060, Marie S. Wiener, Judge.

Nazir v. United Air Lines, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81901 (N.D. Cal., Sept. 9, 2009)