Tex-Cal Land Management, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd.

Citation156 Cal.Rptr. 1,595 P.2d 579,24 Cal.3d 335
Decision Date24 May 1979
Docket NumberR,S.F. N,TEX-CAL,AFL-CI
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Parties, 595 P.2d 579, 88 Lab.Cas. P 55,256 LAND MANAGEMENT, INC., Petitioner, v. AGRICULTURAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Respondent; UNITED FARM WORKERS OF AMERICA,eal Party in Interest. o. 23831.

[595 P.2d 58

Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geralson, Joseph Herman, George Preonas, Bette Bardeen, Karen Garver, Keith A. Hunsaker, Jr., and Stacy D. Shartin, Los Angeles, for petitioner.

Ronald A. Zumbrun and Robert K. Best, Sacramento, as amici curiae on behalf of petitioner.

Dennis Sullivan, Marvin J. Brenner, Harry J. Delizonna, San Jose, Manuel M. Medeiros, Marion Kennedy, Edwin F. Lowry, Thomas M. Sobel, Sacramento, and Gary Williams, Venice, for respondent.

Jerome Cohen, Sanford N. Nathan, Tom M. Dalzell, III, Deborah Wiener Peyton, W. Daniel Boone, Salinas, Glenn Rothner, Los Angeles, E. Michael Heumann II, Linton Joaquin, Salinas, Dianna Lyons, Sacramento, and Kirsten Zerger, Salinas, for real party in interest.

NEWMAN, Justice.

The Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA), Labor Code section 1140 et seq., 1 provides for direct judicial review by the Court of Appeal of certain orders of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB). It states that in such review, "The findings of the board with respect to questions of fact if supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole shall . . . be conclusive." ( § 1160.8.) 2

A petition to the Court of Appeal, Fifth District, for review of a board order against Tex-Cal Land Management, Inc. has drawn into question section 1160.8's construction, constitutionality, and proper application to the review sought. Because of the importance of those issues we granted a hearing after the Court of Appeal sustained the board's order (with minor modifications).

In its order the board found Tex-Cal guilty of unfair labor practices prohibited by section 1153 and accordingly imposed remedial measures under section 1160.3. 3 Tex-Cal claims a lack of evidentiary support for the board's findings that Tex-Cal violated First, subdivision (c) of section 1153 by selecting certain workers for seasonal layoff in order to discourage membership in the United Farm Workers (UFW) and, Second, subdivision (a) of that section by molesting UFW organizers who were on Tex-Cal's premises as permitted by the board's access rules (Cal.Admin.Code, tit. 8, §§ 20900-20901, pp. 1051-1054.1, 1054; see Agricultural Labor Relations Board v. Superior Court (1976) 16 Cal.3d 392, 400, 128 Cal.Rptr. 183, 546 P.2d 687.) 4

Tex-Cal contends that, despite section 1160.8's direction to sustain board findings supported by substantial evidence, the California Constitution's restrictions on judicial power require courts to reject the findings unless, after an independent review of the record, they are ruled to be supported by the weight of the evidence. We must (1) decide on the proper standard of review, (2) determine in light of that standard the nature and constitutionality of section 1160.8's provision for initial review of board orders by an appellate rather than a superior court, and (3) if initial appellate review is constitutional, apply the proper standard in determining the validity of the board's order here.

The proceedings began with a complaint issued by the board based on UFW charges that Tex-Cal in 1975 illegally laid off employees and refused access to UFW organizers. A hearing was held in December 1975 before an administrative law officer who on February 11, 1976, issued findings, conclusions and recommendations. A transcript of the hearing, together with exceptions and briefs of Tex-Cal and the board's general counsel, was then submitted to a three-member panel of the board (see § 1146) that on February 15, 1977, issued the order now sought to be reviewed.

On March 17, 1977, Tex-Cal filed its petition with the Court of Appeal requesting review of the February 15th order under section 1160.8. The record of all the administrative proceedings was filed with the court; and, pursuant to court orders, briefs were submitted by Tex-Cal, the board's general counsel, and the UFW; 5 and the case was orally argued. The court affirmed the order (with modification) and directed its enforcement.

1. Does the California Constitution preclude giving effect to a legislatively mandated "substantial evidence" standard for reviewing decisions of a statewide agency on which the Constitution does not confer judicial power?

Tex-Cal's attack on section 1160.8's command that findings be conclusive "if supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole" is based on California cases that first preceded and later construed Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5, enacted in 1945. The earliest case, Standard Oil Co. v. State Board of Equal. (1936) 6 Cal.2d 557, 559, 59 P.2d 119, held that certiorari was not available to review orders of a statewide agency on which the California Constitution neither conferred nor authorized a legislative conferral of judicial power. Such orders were then held unreviewable by prohibition (Whitten v. California State Board of Optometry (1937) 8 Cal.2d 444, 65 P.2d 1296) but reviewable by mandate (Drummey v. State Bd. of Funeral Directors (1939) 13 Cal.2d 75, 82, 87 P.2d 848). Drummey ruled that, in a mandate proceeding to review suspension of a vocational license, courts must independently determine the weight of the evidence. Why? Because to give finality to a licensing agency's findings on conflicting evidence would, the court declared, permit the agency to exercise judicial power in violation of the Constitution. (Id. at p. 84, 87 P.2d 848.)

In McDonough v. Goodcell (1939) 13 Cal.2d 741, 91 P.2d 1035, Drummey 's holding was ruled not to apply to the denial of an application for a license; there the test was held to be whether evidence supporting the denial would be sufficient on appeal to sustain similar findings in a court trial. (id. at p. 749, 91 P.2d 1035.) mCdonough pronounced that, in drummey, licenses ordered suspended were "valuable property rights" that gave rise to a requirement of judicial weighing of the evidence because the suspension, if unlawful, would deprive the licensee of a right without due process of law. (Id. at pp. 752-753, 91 P.2d 1035.)

To clarify the procedures for review of administrative orders based on evidentiary hearings the Legislature in 1945 enacted section 1094.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, subdivision (c) of which provides: "Where it is claimed that the findings are not supported by the evidence, in cases in which the court is authorized by law to exercise its independent judgment on the evidence, abuse of discretion is established if the court determines that the findings are not supported by the weight of the evidence; and in all other cases abuse of discretion is established if the court determines that the findings are not supported by substantial evidence in the light of the whole record." The statute does not specify which cases are reviewable under the "weight of the evidence" and the "substantial evidence" standards but has been construed as continuing the Drummey-McDonough distinction. Thus, independent judgment as to weight of the evidence is required where a "vested" right is at stake; substantial evidence review is sufficient where the right is not vested. (See, e. g., Merrill v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1969) 71 Cal.2d 907, 914-915, 80 Cal.Rptr. 89, 458 P.2d 33.)

Bixby v. Pierno (1971) 4 Cal.3d 130, 144, 93 Cal.Rptr. 234, 244, 481 P.2d 242, 252, declared that entitlement to independent judgment review requires that there be at stake a right which, in addition to being "vested," is "fundamental" based "not alone (on) the economic aspect of it, but the effect of it in human terms and the importance of it to the individual in the life situation." Recent opinions have extended that rule to local and private agencies reviewable under section 1094.5 that have no judicial power under article VI, section 1 or any other clause of the Constitution. (Strumsky v. San Diego County Employees Retirement Assn. (1974) 11 Cal.3d 28, 112 Cal.Rptr. 805, 520 P.2d 29 (county retirement board); Anton v. San Antonio Community Hosp. (1977) 19 Cal.3d 802, 140 Cal.Rptr. 442, 567 P.2d 1162 (private hospital).)

In Bixby, 4 Cal.3d 130, 151, 93 Cal.Rptr. 234, 481 P.2d 242, a dissenting opinion called for adoption of uniform substantial evidence review under section 1094.5. The majority opinion expressed two reasons for rejecting the dissent. First it pointed out that section 1094.5 was intended to leave to courts the establishment of standards for deciding which cases require independent judgment and which substantial evidence review. ("In view of this judicial history, the court would now assert a doubtful prerogative if it were to rule that no cases at all require an independent judgment review and that the Legislature created an empty category in section 1094.5.") (4 Cal.3d 130, 140, 93 Cal.Rptr. 234, 241, 481 P.2d 242, 249.) Second, the majority opinion urged that independent judgment review be retained because it may help cure due process violations at the administrative level. (Id. at p. 140, fn. 6, 93 Cal.Rptr. 234, 481 P.2d 242.)

Those two reasons for rejecting the dissent imply that a statute might pass constitutional muster if it were to (1) provide for judicial review of fact findings only by the standard whether they are supported by substantial evidence in the light of the whole record, and (2) guarantee administrative due process. The words of section 1160.8, now before us, fulfill both those qualifications: they state that findings are conclusive "if supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole"; and they are part of a statute, the ALRA, which generally assures the essentials of due process.

Unlike section 1094.5, which arose out of and perpetuated a state of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
112 cases
  • Pasillas v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 24 Mayo 1984
    ...of employees and employers with respect to collective bargaining. [Citation.]" (Tex-Cal Land Management, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 335, 345, 156 Cal.Rptr. 1, 595 P.2d 579; see generally, Levy, The Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975--La Esperanza de Cali......
  • Abbott Labs. v. Superior Court of Orange Cnty., D072577
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 31 Mayo 2018
    ...a manner which avoids any doubt concerning its validity’ " ' "]; Tex-Cal Land Management, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 335, 346, 156 Cal.Rptr. 1, 595 P.2d 579 ["[t]he Legislature may not give to courts a jurisdiction beyond that conferred or authorized by the Co......
  • McPherson v. Public Employment Relations Bd.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 11 Febrero 1987
    ...Camera Corp. v. Labor Bd. (1951) 340 U.S. 474, 488, 71 S.Ct. 456, 464, 95 L.Ed. 456; Tex-Cal Land Management, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 335, 156 Cal.Rptr. 1, 595 P.2d 579; cf. Lab.Code, § 1160.8 with § 3542, subd. (c).) The standard does not change when the N......
  • Harry Carian Sales v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd., AFL-CI
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 1 Agosto 1985
    ...P.2d 263, quoting Tex-Cal Land Management, Inc. (1977) 3 ALRB No. 14, p. 11, affd. Tex-Cal Land Management, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd. (1979) 24 Cal.3d 335, 156 Cal.Rptr. 1, 595 P.2d 579.) We have reviewed the record carefully, and conclude that none of the violations charged ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT