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Superior Court Judge Tam Nomoto Schumann said she would grant the Orange County Employees Association's request for a preliminary injunction. But the city has until Friday to file objections before she issues her ruling.
The union filed suit in May, arguing that the city's plan to outsource municipal jobs violates state law and the union contract.
In March, the Costa Mesa City Council majority voted to outsource jobs to mostly private companies in a drastic move to plug a $15 million budget hole.
Soon afterward, 213 of 450 employees got layoff notices that would take effect in September.
Union spokeswoman Jennifer Muir said the court order would protect employees' jobs until the case against the city goes to trial.
Schumann said the city must follow proper procedures when laying off workers, but she didn't explain what those procedures are.
Assistant City Attorney Harold Potter contends the city has been following procedures while pursuing austerity measures.
The judge's ruling won't stop the city from exploring outsourcing options, he said.
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