Court of Appeals Affirms Lawsuit Against District

Courtesy of the Rancho Santiago Community College District

The Rancho Santiago Community College District is losing about $1 million after the Orange County Court of Appeals rejected district claims Thursday, affirming a prior lawsuit decision against the district.

The plaintiff, three-time RSCCD employee Marisa Hernandez, filed the lawsuit in 2014 after the district terminated her employment during an approved workers compensation leave. Hernandez was slated to return to work after the end of her probationary period before becoming a permanent employee, but was unable to complete job performance evaluations while recovering from hand surgery.

The trial court determined the district could accommodate Hernandez by removing the four months of disability leave from her probation or extending her probationary period, preventing Hernandez from becoming a permanent employee on the anniversary of her hire date.

The RSCCD appealed, stating Hernandez would become a permanent employee at the end of probation despite missing her evaluations. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s prior decision.

With the court ruling in her favor, the district is paying Hernandez $723,746 in damages.

According to the court record, the district appealed the incorrect court action, challenging the court’s judgement after trial rather than their initial decision, and failed to include certain testimonies and exhibits in their appeal record.