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Supreme Court of California
March 3, 2008, Filed
[**234] [***625] CHIN, J.—In Reno v. Baird (1998) 18 Cal.4th 640 [76 Cal. Rptr. 2d 499, 957 P.2d 1333] (Reno), we held that, although an employer may be held liable for discrimination [****2] under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.), 1 nonemployer individuals are not personally liable for that discrimination. In this case, we must decide whether the FEHA makes individuals personally liable for retaliation. We conclude that the same rule applies to actions for retaliation that applies to actions for discrimination: The employer, but not nonemployer individuals, may be held liable.
I. Procedural History
Plaintiff Scott Jones sued his employer, The Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership (The Lodge), and his supervisor at work, Jean Weiss, as well as others no longer involved in this litigation, for various causes of action, including sexual orientation harassment in violation of section 12940, subdivision (j)(1), sexual orientation discrimination in violation of subdivision (a), [*1161] and retaliation in violation of subdivision (h). The trial court granted summary [***626] adjudication in defendants' favor regarding some of the causes of action, including the harassment cause of action. [****3] It found that plaintiff had failed to present admissible evidence of harassment by Weiss that was severe and pervasive enough to alter the conditions of his employment and create an abusive working environment.
Ultimately, two causes of action went to a jury trial: the claim for sexual orientation discrimination against The Lodge only, and the claim for retaliation against both The Lodge and Weiss. The jury returned a verdict for plaintiff on both causes of action. It awarded compensatory damages of $ 1,395,000 against The Lodge and $ 155,000 against Weiss, but found Weiss did not act with malice or oppression.
The trial court originally entered judgment on the verdict, but later it granted both defendants' motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and, alternatively, for a new trial. Among other things, it concluded that plaintiff had presented insufficient evidence that he had suffered an adverse employment action as to both causes of action. Concerning defendant Weiss, it also ruled that an individual cannot be liable for retaliation. It entered judgment in favor of both defendants.
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42 Cal. 4th 1158 *; 177 P.3d 232 **; 72 Cal. Rptr. 3d 624 ***; 2008 Cal. LEXIS 2504 ****; 102 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1516; 90 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P43,123
SCOTT JONES, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. THE LODGE AT TORREY PINES PARTNERSHIP et al., Defendants and Respondents.
Subsequent History: Reported at Jones (Scott) v. Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership, 2008 Cal. LEXIS 2830 (Cal., Mar. 3, 2008)
Time for Granting or Denying Rehearing Extended Jones (Scott) v. Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership, 2008 Cal. LEXIS 3826 (Cal., Mar. 25, 2008)
Rehearing denied by, Remittitur denied by Jones v. Lodge at Torrey Pines P'ship, 2008 Cal. LEXIS 5120 (Cal., Apr. 30, 2008)
Prior History: [****1] Superior Court of San Diego County, No. GIC811515, Richard E. L. Strauss, Judge, Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, No. D046600.
Jones v. Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership, 147 Cal. App. 4th 475, 54 Cal. Rptr. 3d 379, 2007 Cal. App. LEXIS 159 (Cal. App. 4th Dist., 2007)
Disposition: The court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal and remanded the matter to that court for further proceedings.
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Labor & Employment Law, Retaliation, Elements, General Overview, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Evidence, Judicial Notice, Legislative Facts, Statutory Application