It Has Never Been About Desire: New Law Clarifies Standards for Sexual Harassment Cases in California

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EmpBlog-10.2.2013-Rose-GavelGovernor Brown has signed Senate Bill 292 into law.  SB 292 amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) in response to the case of Kelley v. Conco Companies, a 2011 California Court of Appeal same-sex harassment decision that created some confusion regarding a plaintiff’s evidentiary requirement for proving a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim by implying that a plaintiff is required to prove sexual desire to prevail on such a claim.  This reading of the Kelley decision contradicts the 2006 California Court of Appeal decision in Singleton v. United States Gypsum Co., and ignores language in the leading United States Supreme Court decision on same-sex sexual harassment, Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc.  SB 292 amends FEHA to specifically state that sexual harassing conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire.  Sexually harassing conduct is wrong, regardless of motivation.


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