Court Wraps Former Teacher’s Knuckles Over SLAPP Suit

California Employment Law Letter

Elizabeth J. Boca, an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s San Francisco office, authored an article in the California Employment Law Letter, titled “Court Wraps Former Teacher’s Knuckles Over SLAPP Suit.” (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

A former teacher with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and his wife sued LAUSD, alleging a variety of claims, the majority of which were related to the school district’s internal investigation following complaints of child abuse against the teacher. The communications related to the investigation were deemed protected under the California anti-SLAPP statute. (SLAPP is an acronym for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” A SLAPP is a civil lawsuit aimed at preventing citizens from exercising their political or constitutional rights or punishing citizens who have exercised those rights.) On August 16, 2017, the California Court of Appeal for the 2nd Appellate District issued a decision that affirmed the trial court’s decision dismissing the teacher’s SLAPP suit.

Complaints of child abuse and molestation

Dioka Okorie was a teacher employed by LAUSD. During his employment, he was accused of improper discipline, child abuse, and child molestation. The accusations resulted in LAUSD suspending his employment and conducting an investigation.

Okorie and his wife sued LAUSD, alleging that Okorie was harassed and discriminated against for a variety of reasons (e.g., because of his race, national origin, and gender) in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and that the harassment and discrimination caused them severe emotional distress. Okorie did not assert a claim for wrongful termination.