Union steward faces retaliation after confronting management at LA County Social Services workplace. $3.5M. Los Angeles County.


Plaintiff leads protest over supervisor's policies; is transferred and set up for failure.

The Case

  • Case Name: Young v. Department of Public Social Services and County of Los Angeles
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC609911
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, October 27, 2022
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, February 11, 2016
  • Type of Case: Employment, Labor Code Violation
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Judge Jon R. Takasugi
  • Plaintiffs:
    Lorna Young
  • Defendants:
    County of Los Angeles and Department of Public Social Services
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $3,500,000
  • Economic Damages:

    Past: $307,853

    Future: $665,657

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $1,684,326

    Future: $842,164

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 14 court days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 2 days
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 liability; 9-3 damages.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Angel J. Horacek, PC by Angel J. Horacek, Culver City.

    Blackstone PC by Barbara DuVan-Clarke, Beverly Hills.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Martin & Martin LLP by David S. Miller, Renee M. Rubin and Janet A. Alexander, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Anthony E. Reading, Ph.D., clinical psychology.

    Juan-Carlos Zuberbuhler, M.D., psychiatry.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    James E. Rosenberg, M.D., clinical and forensic psychiatry.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    Jubin Merati, Ph.D (econ)
  • Defendant's Technical Experts:
    Jennie McNulty, CPA, MBA (econ)

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was an Eligibility Worker III for defendants, the Department of Public Social Services for the County of Los Angeles ("DPSS"). The supervisor of the department where plaintiff worked separated certain employees into a separate work group. As a union steward, plaintiff complained to superiors that the separation was actually segregation and created discord among the workers.

    Plaintiff suffered adverse employment actions culminating in her constructive discharge, and later, failure to reinstate. Plaintiff took two claims to trial: FEHA retaliation, and Labor Code § 1102.5 retaliation.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff was a 19-year County of Los Angeles employee. She was a DPSS Eligibility Worker III when her office head segregated the work groups by race. As a union steward, plaintiff both personally observed and received complaints from other workers about the racial segregation, and she complained to her office head, even though the change did not affect her workload. When the office head was transferred, she complained to the new office head. The new office head refused to desegregate the work groups, canceled labor management meetings, and otherwise engaged in retaliatory conduct against plaintiff.

    The local union determined they should present the supervisor with a Bill of Rights, but the office head refused to meet with the union and 20+ workers, so they walked to her office to present it. During the presentation, the office head claimed she was injured by a union employee when a door opened on her. Plaintiff was suspended the next day for purportedly leading “MOB activity.” She was then transferred, not given the clearance she needed to do her job, and set up for failure. She was constructively terminated. Upon her constructive termination, the County had her “top of file” marked as ineligible for rehire.

    About a year later, she tried to get reinstated, but the County used these events as reasons to refuse to reinstate her. Her “top of file” marked as ineligible for rehire, which essentially made her not hirable elsewhere.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants DPSS denied both liability and damages.

Additional Notes

Two mandatory settlement conferences were conducted, and the parties discussed settlement. No 998 offers were made by either party at any time.