After-acquired-evidence doctrine bars claim where employer would have to refuse to hire on other grounds

On August 9, 2011, in Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., (California Courts of Appeal – 3rd District, No. C064627) Sierra Chemical Co. (Sierra) hired Salas in 2003. Salas was injured at work and did not return due to a supervisor telling him that he should not do so until his back recovered. Salas sued for disability discrimination, denial of employment, and failure to make a reasonable accommodation. It was found out at trial that Salas had used another individual's social security number to obtain employment at Sierra. Sierra argued that they would not have hired Salas had they known about the counterfeit social security number and moved for summary judgment. The trial court agreed.

The appellate court agreed because the after-acquired-evidence doctrine may act as a complete or partial defense where an employer learns about an employee's wrongdoing that would have caused them to refuse the hire the employee in the first place. Additionally, Sierra had a policy that they would not hire employees who provided false social security numbers. Therefore, Salas' claims were barred.