Colarossi v. Coty US Inc., 97 Cal. App. 4th 1142 (2002)

In this case of alleged wrongful termination in violation of public policy, Kimberly Colarossi alleged that her employment was terminated after she participated as a witness in an investigation of sexual harassment by a manager at the company (Deborah Bassett). The trial court excluded as hearsay evidence that a co-employee had told another employee (the victim of the alleged harassment, DeAnna Roe) that Bassett said she was “going to get revenge on everyone who cooperated in the investigation.” The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s judgment after concluding that the statement in question should have been admitted because (1) it evidenced Bassett’s motivation to retaliate against Colarossi; (2) it was a statement of a party opponent — even though Bassett was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit; and (3) it was a prior inconsistent statement. Finally, the Court concluded that Colarossi’s evidence of retaliation (including Roe’s statement) was sufficient to defeat the motion for summary judgment.