Patrick Kelley’s first week as an ironworker was hell. His supervisors and coworkers tormented him with intimidating and sexually explicit remarks. His supervisor declared that he desired to sodomize him. A coworker chimed in and insisted that he would force Kelley to perform oral sex on the same supervisor. Kelley protested to management and the supervisor ended his active participation. Nevertheless, coworkers continued the name-calling. Management transferred Kelley to other work sites, but the verbal comments continued.
Kelley filed a lawsuit based on illegal sexual harassment and retaliation. The California Court of Appeals decided in Kelley v. The Conco Companies that, absent proof that the supervisor’s behavior was inspired by sexual desire, Kelley did not prove that the behavior constituted sexual harassment. The court, however, concluded that Kelley successfully proved retaliation through the coworkers’ continued verbal harassment after Kelley complained to management.
California state senate majority leader Ellen M. Corbett initiated Senate Bill 292 to resolve the question whether the perpetrator of sexual harassment must be inspired by sexual desire. The law amended the existing California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to state that sexually harassing conduct does not have to be motivated by sexual desire. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 292 into law in August 2013 and the new law goes into effect January 1, 2014.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act declares that it is illegal to harass employees in the workplace because of their sex. Here are some examples of violations of California law:
FEHA also demands that California employers proactively prevent sexual harassment by posting signs at work and educating their workplaces about the law.
If you or a relative have suffered sexual harassment at work, contact our experienced San Diego sexual harassment lawyer for a free consultation.