Thompson v. City of Monrovia, 186 Cal. App. 4th 860 (2010)

Officer Matthew Donald Thompson sued the Monrovia Police Department for harassment and a hostile work environment arising from offensive remarks and behavior that were allegedly directed at an African-American colleague. Thompson also alleged he suffered retaliation for having reported the racism. The trial court granted summary judgment to the police department, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding there was no material factual dispute as to whether the department had retaliated against him. Similarly, the court affirmed summary judgment of Thompson’s claim of harassment on the grounds that he had failed to produce evidence that “he was subjected to harassing comments or conduct because of his association with or advocacy on behalf of African Americans,” that the incidents about which Thompson had complained were neither severe nor pervasive enough to be actionable and because Thompson’s racial harassment claim was barred by the statute of limitations. Finally, the court held the claim involving the department’s alleged failure to investigate harassment and retaliation had to be dismissed because it was not the basis for a “stand-alone tort” and, in any event, there was uncontroverted evidence the department had conducted an appropriate investigation. See also Henderson v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co., 187 Cal. App. 4th 215 (2010) (plaintiff’s counsel who failed to file timely opposition to summary judgment motion could not rely on Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 473(b) for relief); Murray v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 2010 WL 3292968 (Cal. S. Ct. 2010) (federal agency’s investigative findings concerning whistleblower complaint should be given collateral estoppel effect when a complainant elects not to invoke his right to challenge such findings but instead initiates a separate lawsuit).