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 affirmed a prior lawsuit decision Thursday against the district.

The plaintiff, three-time RSCCD employee Marisa Hernandez, filed the lawsuit 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.

“If an employee is disabled, never fire that employee,” said Robert Scuderi, Hernandez’s attorney. According to Scuderi, the district crossed Hernandez by firing her without any prior warning or seeking a resolution.

“She could have waited [for the surgery]. She was assured her job wouldn’t be affected.”

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

District Chancellor Raul Rodriguez declined to comment at the advice of his legal counsel, as it is still an ongoing matter.

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

The district can appeal to the California Supreme Court from June 3 to June 13, where if the Supreme Court accepts, its nine court judges will hear the trial and reach a decision.