Miller v. Department of Corrections, 36 Cal. 4th 446 (2005)

Edna Miller and Frances Mackey, two former employees of the Valley State Prison for Women, alleged the warden accorded unwarranted favorable treatment to three female employees with whom he was having sexual affairs and that such conduct constituted sexual harassment (in the form of a hostile environment) against Miller and Mackey in violation of the FEHA. Plaintiffs alleged that when they complained, they were subjected to unlawful retaliation. The California Supreme Court ruled in favor of Miller and Mackey, holding that “an employee may establish an actionable claim of sexual harassment under the FEHA by demonstrating that widespread sexual favoritism was severe or pervasive enough to alter his or her working conditions and create a hostile environment.” Cf. EEOC v. National Educ. Ass’n, 422 F.3d 840, 2005 WL 2106164 (9th Cir. Sept. 2, 2005) (male supervisor’s “screaming and yelling” and physical intimidation of both male and female employees may have constituted sexual harassment of the latter); Dominguez-Curry v. Nevada Transp. Dep’t, 424 F.3d 1027 (9th Cir. 2005) (summary judgment for employer reversed where there was sufficient evidence of hostile environment).