Zetwick v. County of Yolo, 2017 WL 710476 (9th Cir. 2017)

Victoria Zetwick, a county correctional officer, alleged that the county sheriff created a sexually hostile environment in violation of Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act by, among other things, greeting her and other female employees with unwelcome hugs on more than 100 occasions and a kiss at least once during a 12-year period of time. The district court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on their argument that the conduct was not objectively severe and pervasive and was, instead, merely innocuous, socially acceptable conduct. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the correct legal standard that the trial court should have applied is whether defendants’ conduct was “severe or pervasive” and not “severe and pervasive.”  The Court further held that the district court erred by failing to consider whether a reasonable juror would find that hugs of the kind, number, frequency and persistence described by Zetwick created a hostile environment.