Brome v. California Highway Patrol, 44 Cal. App. 5th 786 (2020)

Jay Brome sued the California Highway Patrol (“CHP”) after resigning as a law enforcement officer, claiming he had been subjected to harassment and discrimination because of his sexual orientation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Brome provided evidence that his fellow officers engaged in “locker room talk” and used words like “gay” or “fag” and would use the word “gay” with a negative connotation as in, “I hated that movie – it was so gay.” Brome also offered evidence that he was frequently refused backup assistance during enforcement stops, which led him to fear for his life. Brome began to suffer from anxiety and stress on the job and became suicidal before beginning a medical leave of absence and filing a workers’ compensation claim based upon work-related stress. After his workers’ compensation claim was resolved in his favor, Brome took industrial disability retirement and ended his employment with the CHP. The trial court granted summary judgment against Brome, but the Court of Appeal reversed, holding that the filing of his workers’ compensation claim could equitably toll the one-year deadline for filing his discrimination claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing to the extent the workers’ compensation claim put the CHP on notice of the potential discrimination claim. Further, the Court held that “[v]iewed as a whole, the record could support a conclusion that Brome’s working conditions became objectively intolerable over time and would have forced a reasonable employee to resign.”