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Your Legal Corner - Client Alert Blog

California Clarifies Definition of Sexual Harassment

Written By: Melissa C. Marsh, Esq., California Attorney, November 2013 Add to Favorites
In 2011, a California appellate court in Kelley v. The Conco Cos, 196 Cal. App. 4th 191 (2011), called into question whether proof of sexual desire was a required element to substantiate a sexual harassment claim. The stated purpose of Senate Bill 292 is to overturn the Court’s decision in Kelley.

Effective January 1, 2014, Senate Bill 292 amends California Government Code 12940, commonly known as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, to clarify that a sexual harassment plaintiff is not required to prove, in all cases, that the sexually harassing conduct was motivated by sexual desire.

Under pre-existing case law, a plaintiff alleging sexual harassment was required to show, or prove, one of the following three elements: (1) sexual intent or desire on the part of the defendant toward the plaintiff; (2) general hostility by the defendant toward a particular sex, of which the plaintiff is a member; OR (3) comparative evidence about how the alleged harasser treated members of the sexes differently at work. See, Singleton v. United States Gypsum Co., 140 Cal. App. 4th 1547 (2006) and Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75, 80-81 (1998), which held that no sexual desire is necessary to prove sexual harassment SB 292 ensures that all three prior offerings of proof remain valid to show a hostile work environment and/or sexual harassment.


Tags: harassment, sexual harassment
Posted In: Employment Law News 


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Located in Los Angeles, California, the Law Office of Melissa C. Marsh handles business law and corporation law matters as a lawyer for clients throughout Los Angeles including Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Woodland Hills, Hollywood, West LA as well as Riverside County, San Fernando, Ventura County, and Santa Clarita. Attorney Melissa C. Marsh has considerable experience handling business matters both nationally and internationally. We routinely assist our clients with incorporation, forming a California corporation, forming a California llc, partnership, annual minutes, shareholder meetings, director meetings, getting a taxpayer ID number (EIN), buying a business, selling a business, commercial lease review, employee disputes, independent contractors, construction, and personal matters such as preparing a will, living trust, power of attorney, health care directive, and more.