Myers v. Trendwest Resorts, Inc., 56 Cal. Rptr. 3d 501 (Ct. App. 2007)

Alissa Myers, a salesperson, alleged that her supervisor, Ayman Damlahki, had sexually harassed her with numerous unwanted and unwelcome sexual advances, comments, innuendoes of a sexual nature, and numerous non-consensual physical contacts with her body, all of which created an intimidating, oppressive, hostile and offensive work environment. The trial court granted summary judgment to Trendwest on these and related claims after concluding that Damlahki’s alleged actions took place outside the workplace and were not work-related. The Court of Appeal reversed the grant of summary judgment, concluding that an employer is strictly liable for a supervisor’s actions unless the harassment resulted “from a completely private relationship unconnected with the employment.” Similarly, the Court concluded that Trendwest was not entitled to dismissal of a statutory claim for failure to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment nor was it entitled to summary adjudication of Myers’s punitive damages claim. The appellate court affirmed dismissal of the common law claims Myers alleged for sexual battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress on the ground that Damlahki’s sexual conduct towards Myers was outside the scope of his employment as a matter of law. Finally, the Court reversed the trial court’s award to Trendwest of $40,000 in attorney’s fees. Cf. Demps v. San Francisco Housing Authority, 2007 WL 1040919 (Cal. Ct. App. 2007) (trial court’s failure to rule on properly presented objections to evidence submitted in opposition to summary judgment motion results in their being impliedly overruled).