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Are elected city officials considered employees?

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The court denied the anti-SLAPP motion in relation to the claims of section 1102.5 retaliation and retaliation-based IIED against all the defendants but otherwise granted the motion. The defendants appealed.

Treasurer’s claims stricken

In the case of Brown v. City of Inglewood, the California Court of Appeal for the Second District partly reversed the order of the trial court. The trial court should have stricken the plaintiff’s claims of section 1102.5 retaliation and retaliation-based IIED against the individual defendants under the anti-SLAPP law, the appellate court ruled.

First, the appellate court determined that the retaliation-based claims against the individual defendants arose from conduct that the anti-SLAPP law protected. The individual defendants’ votes adopting two ordinances and a policy that collectively led to the reduction in the plaintiff’s salary, authority, and duties were protected activity, the appellate court explained.

Second, the appellate court held that the section 1102.5 retaliation claim was not legally sufficient because the plaintiff was not an employee for the purposes of that provision. Subdivisions (b) and (c) of that section protected employees from certain kinds of retaliation by an employer or by someone acting on the employer’s behalf.

The legislature did not reference elected officials as falling within the scope of the term “employee” under section 1102.5, the appellate court noted. The legislature provided elected officials such as the plaintiff the benefits of the Workers’ Compensation Act but denied them the protections of section 1102.5, the appellate court added.

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