Hirst v. City of Oceanside, 236 Cal. App. 4th 774 (2015)

Kimberli Hirst, an employee of American Forensic Nurses, Inc., sued the City of Oceanside after she was allegedly sexually harassed by an Oceanside police officer while providing phlebotomist services on behalf of the Oceanside Police Department. A jury awarded Hirst $1.5 million, which the trial court reduced to $1.25 million. In its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (“JNOV”), the City asserted that Hirst was not a City employee, special employee or “person providing services pursuant to a contract.” The trial court denied the City’s JNOV motion, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that Hirst was a “person providing services pursuant to a contract” as defined in Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940(j)(1) even though she was not herself an independent contractor, but an employee of a business that had entered into a contract with the City