Hatai v. Dep't of Transportation, 214 Cal. App. 4th 1287 (2013)

Kenneth Hatai sued his employer (CalTrans) and his supervisor (Sameer Haddadeen), alleging discrimination based on his Japanese ancestry and the fact that he was not of Arab ancestry like Haddadeen. The case was tried to a jury, which returned defense verdicts in favor of CalTrans and Haddadeen. On appeal, Hatai asserted the trial court erred by excluding evidence of Haddadeen's alleged discrimination against persons of non-Arab ancestry. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in favor of the defendants (including the award of more than $30,000 in costs to defendants), holding that "the trial court acted well within the bounds of its discretion in excluding evidence related to employees outside Hatai's protected class" (i.e., employees of east Asian or Japanese descent). The Court noted that "this [case] was pled as an anti-Asian case, not as an Arab favoritism case. It was only on the eve of trial that Hatai sought to reframe the case to show that Haddadeen had discriminatory intent 'against anyone who is not an Arab' – lacking evidence of anti-Asian animus by Haddadeen, Hatai now sought to prove his case by showing Haddadeen's general xenophobia against non-Arabs."