California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Sexual Harassment

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California Has a New Governor – Will it Make Much Difference for Employers?

After Jerry Brown’s second set of 8 years in office (1975-83 and 2011-19), employers now look to Governor-Elect Gavin Newsom for what’s in store for them in the Golden State.  (Although Jerry Brown wasn’t a particularly good friend of employers, he often was the only friend they had in Sacramento, vetoing some of the more … Continue Reading

Governor Brown Signs Slew Of #MeToo-Inspired Laws

This weekend Governor Brown signed many laws that were authored and gained traction in response to the #MeToo movement: New Restrictions On Confidentiality Of Sexual Harassment/Discrimination Settlements Senate Bill 820 prohibits confidentiality or non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements that prevent the disclosure of factual information involving allegations of sexual misconduct – unless the party alleging … Continue Reading

New California Statute Shields Victims/Employers from Defamation Claims

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed Assembly Bill 2770 (Assembly Member Irwin; D-Thousand Oaks), an act to amend Section 47 of the Civil Code.  The bill should protect both sexual harassment victims and employers against defamation claims from alleged harassers. The bill was sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce and passed the Legislature with unanimous, bipartisan … Continue Reading

Negligent Hiring Claim May Be Covered By CGL Insurance Policy

Liberty Surplus Ins. Corp. v. Ledesma & Meyer Constr. Co., 233 Cal. Rptr. 3d 487 (Cal. S. Ct. 2018) Ledesma & Meyer Construction Company (“L&M”) contracted with the San Bernardino Unified School District to manage a construction project at a middle school where a 13-year-old student (“Jane Doe”) was allegedly sexually abused by Darold Hecht, … Continue Reading

Title VII Claim Must Be Filed Within 90 Days Of Receipt Of Right-To-Sue Letter

Scott v. Gino Morena Enterprises, LLC, 2018 WL 1977123 (9th Cir. 2018) Taylor Scott sued GME in state court for sexual harassment and retaliation. Because Scott worked at a barbershop located on the United States Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, her state court action was removed to federal court under the federal enclave doctrine. After … Continue Reading

$48,000 Judgment Affirmed In Favor Of Former Parks & Recreation Employee

Hurley v. California Dep’t of Parks & Recreation, 2018 WL 989506 (Cal. Ct. App. 2018) Delane Hurley worked as a staff services analyst who sued her employer, the Department of Parks & Recreation (“DPR”), and her former supervisor Leda Seals for harassment based on sex and sexual orientation in violation of the Fair Employment and … Continue Reading

Employer Was Properly Sanctioned $4,000 Per Day For Noncompliance With Discovery Order

Padron v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc’y of NY, Inc., 16 Cal. App. 5th 1246 (2017) Oswaldo Padron sued Watchtower for negligence; negligent supervision/failure to warn; negligent hiring/retention; sexual battery and sexual harassment, etc., associated with his allegedly being molested by one of Watchtower’s agents (Gonzalo Campos) when Padron was a child. Following multiple hearings … Continue Reading

Trial Court Erroneously Granted Bill Cosby’s Anti-SLAPP Motion

Dickinson v. Cosby, 17 Cal. App. 5th 655 (2017) After Janice Dickinson went public with her accusations of rape against Bill Cosby, Cosby’s attorney (Martin Singer) reacted with: (1) a letter demanding that media outlets not repeat Dickinson’s allegedly false accusation, under threat of litigation; and (2) a press release characterizing Dickinson’s rape accusation as … Continue Reading

Tax Reform Act Denies Deductions for Some Sexual Harassment Settlements

In a little-noticed provision buried deep inside the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (signed into law on Dec. 22) is the following “denial of deduction”: “Payments related to sexual harassment and sexual abuse – No deduction shall be allowed under this chapter for – any settlement or payment related to sexual harassment or sexual … Continue Reading

Mandatory Training To Prevent Gender Identity Harassment

This law expands the scope of mandatory sexual harassment training employers must provide to their supervisory employees. Currently, FEHA requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide at least two hours of prescribed training and education regarding sexual harassment to all supervisory employees within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position and … Continue Reading

DFEH Releases Guidelines On Preventing and Correcting Harassment

Last month the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) announced the release of a new guide for California employers on the steps they should take to prevent and correct workplace harassment. The nine page document provides employers with a helpful FAQ-style guide to maintaining an effective anti-harassment program, appropriately responding to employee complaints, and … Continue Reading

A handy guide for choosing and using employment practices liability insurance coverage

Thompson Reuters has just published our “handy guide” for choosing and using employment practices liability insurance (“EPLI”).  The article is attached.  There are a number of important things to keep in mind when considering your options and using these insurance policies if and when an employment claim is made or threatened.  Please let one of our employment … Continue Reading

New Notice Regarding Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault And Stalking Protections

Existing law prohibits an employer from discharging or in any manner discriminating or retaliating against an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking for taking time off from work for specified purposes related to addressing the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This bill requires employers to inform each employee … Continue Reading

Outside Counsel’s Investigation Of Sexual Harassment Was Privileged

City of Petaluma v. Superior Court, 2016 WL 3342543 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016) Andrea Waters, who worked as a firefighter and paramedic for the City of Petaluma, alleged she was harassed and discriminated against based upon her sex. Waters also claimed she suffered retaliation after she complained about the treatment. Waters took a leave of … Continue Reading

Employer Is Entitled To Recover $4 Million In Attorney’s Fees From EEOC

CRST Van Expedited, Inc. v. EEOC, 578 U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 1642 (2016) The EEOC filed suit against CRST (a trucking company) alleging that over 250 female employees and prospective employees had been subjected to sexual harassment. However, the district court dismissed all of the claims on various grounds, including that the EEOC had … Continue Reading

EEOC Sufficiently Conciliated Class Claims Before Bringing Suit, And Employee Stated Hostile Environment Claim

Arizona ex rel. Horne v. The Geo Group, 2016 WL 945634 (9th Cir. 2016) Alice Hancock was employed by Geo as a correctional officer at the Arizona State Prison. Geo contracts with the Arizona Department of Corrections to maintain and operate two facilities in the state. Hancock filed a charge of discrimination and harassment based … Continue Reading

New California Regulations Regarding Discrimination, Harassment and Pregnancy Disability Leave

New California anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and pregnancy disability leave regulations go into effect on April 1, 2016.  The substantive law regarding these issues has not changed.  However, the new amendments enumerate detailed requirements regarding anti-harassment policies and investigations, and institute additional notice and recordkeeping requirements. Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Regulations The new anti-discrimination and harassment regulations clarify … Continue Reading

$300,000 In Punitive Damages Upheld In Sexual Harassment Case Despite Nominal Damages Award

State of Arizona v. ASARCO LLC, 2014 WL 6918577 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc) Angela Aguilar who worked in a copper mine for approximately 11 months claimed she was sexually harassed, retaliated against, subjected to intentional infliction of emotional distress and was constructively terminated from her employment. After an eight-day trial, the jury found ASARCO … Continue Reading

Liability For Employer’s Harassment, False Imprisonment Of Employees Was Not Covered By Insurance

Jon Davler, Inc. v. Arch Ins. Co., 229 Cal. App. 4th 1025 (2014) After one of the owners of Jon Davler, Inc. (Christina Yang) found a used sanitary napkin in the women’s bathroom and blood around the toilet seat, she started yelling at the employees that they were “dirty” and demanded to know which of … Continue Reading

Thou Shalt Not Bully – Employers Must Educate Supervisors about “Abusive Conduct”

California businesses that have 50 or more employees are already required to train supervisors on legally prohibited sexual harassment. Following California Governor Jerry Brown’s recent signing of A.B. 2053, that training must now also include education on preventing “abusive conduct” in the workplace, even if the conduct is not based on a protected characteristic nor … Continue Reading

Franchisor Is Not Liable For Franchisee’s Alleged Sexual Harassment Of Its Employee

Patterson v. Domino’s Pizza, LLC, 2014 WL 4236175 (Cal. S. Ct. 2014) Taylor Patterson was hired by Sui Juris (a franchisee of Domino’s Pizza) to serve customers at its store.  Patterson alleged that she was sexually harassed by Renee Miranda, an adult male who held the title of assistant manager of the Sui Juris store.  … Continue Reading

$60,000 Sexual Harassment Verdict Is Affirmed

Kim v. Konad USA Distribution, Inc., 226 Cal. App. 4th 1336 (2014) Following a bench trial, Esther Kim was awarded $60,000 against her former employer (Konad) and her former boss (Dong Whang) for sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Curiously, defendants did not challenge the pleadings or file any pretrial motion to dispose of any part … Continue Reading

Male Employee’s Sexual Harassment Claims Should Not Have Been Dismissed

Lewis v. City of Benicia, 224 Cal. App. 4th 1519 (2014) Brian Lewis, a heterosexual man, sued his former employer (the City of Benecia) and two former male supervisors for sexual harassment and the City for retaliation. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the supervisors (Steve Hickman and Rick Lantrip) and judgment … Continue Reading
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