Waitress terminated after pregnancy-related leave; she does not get along with new chef. Sutter County.


Waitress is terminated after pregnancy-related leave.  She came back to find that her friend, the chef, had been terminated and she allegedly did not get along with the new chef.

The Case

  • Case Name: Saavedra v. Bonanza Inn Hotel
  • Court and Case Number: Sutter County Superior Court / CVCS 13-0588
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, September 25, 2014
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
  • Type of Case: Employment
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Perry Parker
  • Plaintiffs:
    Marisela Saavedra, 24
  • Defendants:
    Bonanza Inn Hotel
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 hours
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 7 minutes
  • Jury Polls: None
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defense motion for attorney's fees for bringing and prosecution of action without good cause.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Perkins & Associates by Robin Perkins and Michael Shoff, Sacramento.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Dennis John Woodruff, Oakland.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintff waitress alleges discrimination/retaliation because she was terminated after returning to work from a 7-day leave for pregnancy-related issues. She was terminated on the sixth day that she worked after returning from the leave.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff had worked for defendant employer for three years and had been doing a good job. That 6 working days after returning from her pregnancy-related leave and informing defendant that she intended to get pregnant again, she was terminated. Plaintiff denied any and all wrongdoing and claimed not to have a clue as to why she was terminated.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That plaintiff, as well as all employees, are allowed leave for any reason, including medical and pregnancy-related issues. That plaintiff was told to take as long as she needed, that her job would be waiting for her. When plaintiff returned from leave she learned that her favorite chef, and workplace friend, had been fired.

    That plaintiff took a disliking to the new chef and began to drag her feet on taking out orders and complaining about how the chef prioritized the orders. That plaintiff involved other staff in her disgruntlement, disturbed guests with her loud and vulgar language, and was not amenable to guidance and coaching from her manager. A history of her employment revealed two past written warnings for similar behavior.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: $20,000. Reduced to 19,000 at settlement conference.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $1.00 and waiver of costs of about $1,500.
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: Defendant's offer at settlement conference was that plaintiff pay defendant's costs and attorneys fees incurred since 998 expired, amounting to at total of about $5,800.

Additional Notes

Defendant is making motion for attorneys fees which under the Govt. Cde 12940, are awardable to the "prevailing party" but which in practice are only awarded to
defendants if strong showing is made that action was brought  or continued without good cause. See Christiansburg Garment Co. v Equal Employment Opportunity Comm'n. 434 U.S. 412, 421.