California Court Denies Plaintiff’s Appeal in Sexual Harassment Case, Citing Lack of Causal Link

Courts reviewing sexual harassment claims have the potential to award plaintiffs with significant monetary compensation; however, the legal claims have to establish certain causal links in order to be successful. Recently, a California court denied a plaintiff’s appeal in her employment discrimination case, concluding that there was no causal link between the sexual harassment that the individual faced and the consequences that she suffered while on the job. Thus, even though the plaintiff had conclusively established that she was a victim of sexual harassment, her case was ultimately unsuccessful.

According to the opinion, the plaintiff sued her employer for sexual harassment, retaliation, and failure to prevent harassment and retaliation. After her claim was denied by a lower court, the plaintiff appealed and hoped that a higher court would grant her a more favorable verdict.

The plaintiff was one of only three women serving as a lead public safety dispatcher for the city in which she resided. As a SWAT team member, the plaintiff was consistently subjected to sexually explicit jokes, nudity, and simulated sexual acts. What’s more, the plaintiff felt as if she could not refuse to participate in the sexually explicit culture, given it seemed necessary for her to advance as a member of the team.

The plaintiff was demoted 12 years into her employment, and she alleged in her case that this demotion was because the department wanted to replace her with someone who would not question or call attention to the problematic culture in the work environment. In considering her case, the court looked at all of the facts related to the plaintiff’s employment, including the flirtatious behavior and physical conduct that the plaintiff’s supervisor directed towards her. At times, the supervisor in question would give the plaintiff hugs and massages, despite her discomfort with the physical contact.

Ultimately, however, the court decided that the plaintiff had not conclusively established that there was a link between her rejection of the sexually explicit conduct and the adverse employment action she faced as a SWAT team member. While it was true both that the plaintiff experienced sexual harassment and that she was ultimately demoted, there was no proof that the two events were connected in such a way that one caused the other.

Because the plaintiff could not establish this necessary causal link, her appeal was denied.

Have You Faced Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment at your job in California, give us a call at the Nourmand Law Firm. We understand that bringing forward a successful claim involves not only presenting necessary facts but also arguing for the appropriate law to be applied. To give yourself the highest likelihood of walking away with your fair share of compensation, it is crucial that you speak with one of our qualified attorneys. We are dedicated to fighting for California workers’ rights, and we will be dedicated to fighting for you. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 310-553-3600.



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