Sexual Harassment Complaints Are Subject To Anti-SLAPP Motions To Strike

Aber v. Comstock, 2012 WL 6863235 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 18, 2012)

Plaintiff Lisa Aber sued her employer and two of its employees, alleging that the employees had sexually assaulted her. Michael Comstock, one of the employee defendants, filed a cross-complaint against Aber, alleging claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Comstock alleged that Aber published false statements about him to four groups: (1) the police; (2) a nurse at Kaiser Permanente; (3) fellow employees; and (4) “friends.” Aber filed a special motion to strike the cross-complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute (Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 425.16). The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the cross-complaint. The Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that Comstock’s cross-complaint was prohibited by the statute as it involved “statements made in, or in connection with matters under review by, an official proceeding or body.” The Court of Appeal further held that Comstock failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits.