Salas v. Sierra Chem. Co., 198 Cal. App. 4th 29 (2011)

Vicente Salas worked on Sierra Chemical's production line, filling containers with various chemicals. At the time of his hire, Salas provided Sierra with a resident alien card and a Social Security card and signed an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9 Form). After allegedly injuring his back several times and presenting doctors' notes restricting his ability to lift, stoop and bend, Salas was laid off in December 2006 as part of Sierra's annual reduction in its production line staff. Salas received a recall-to-work letter in May 2007, but Sierra did not permit him to return to work after he told the company he was "not completely healed." Salas subsequently filed a lawsuit against Sierra, alleging disability discrimination and denial of employment in violation of public policy. After filing an in limine motion stating that he would assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to any questions concerning his immigration status, Sierra discovered that the Social Security number ("SSN") used by Salas to secure employment belonged to a man in North Carolina named Kelley R. Tenney. Sierra then moved for summary judgment on the ground that it never would have hired or recalled Salas if it had known he was using a counterfeit SSN. After its motion was initially denied, Sierra filed a petition for writ of mandate with the Court of Appeal, which directed the trial court to grant the motion or show cause why the motion should not be granted. The trial court subsequently granted the motion, and the Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment in this opinion based upon the after-acquired evidence and unclean hands doctrines.