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California Department of Human Resources wins case filed by state employee

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The trial court sided with CalHR and dismissed the complaint against the award board. The employee appealed. The trial court applied the wrong limitations period, the employee argued. If the trial court applied the correct period, his complaint would not be barred, the employee added.

Employee’s suit is too late

In the case of Shah v. Department of Human Resources et al., the California Court of Appeal for the Third District affirmed the decision. The trial court correctly found that the one-year period in section 19815.8 time-barred the employee’s complaint, the appellate court said.

First, the appellate court ruled that it would prioritize a specific limitations period over a more general period. Therefore, the appellate court chose to prioritize section 19815.8 because it applied to a specific and smaller subset of government claims, namely claims relating to laws administered by CalHR.

On the other hand, section 945.6 was more general, the appellate court said. This provision was part of the Government Claims Act, which generally required the presentation of a claim against a public entity before the filing of a lawsuit. This law broadly applied to most claims against public entities in California.

Lastly, the appellate court noted that it would generally prioritize a shorter limitations period over a longer one. Thus, the appellate court chose to prioritize section 19815.8, which had a one-year period, over section 945.6, which had a two-year period.

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