Weekly Law Resume - December 1, 2011: Sporadic Incidents of Alleged Sexual Conduct Insufficient to Create a Hostile Work Environment

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Stephanie Brennan v. Townsend & O'Leary Enterprises, Inc., et al. Court of Appeal, Fourth District (October 18, 2011)

In this case, the Court of Appeal held that judgment for an employer was proper where the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence that she was subjected to severe or pervasive workplace harassment based on her gender.

Stephanie Brennan worked at an advertising agency from 1991 to 2005. In 2004, she inadvertently received an e-mail intended for another person that referred to her as "big-titted" and "mindless." Between 2000 and 2003, she witnessed an employee wearing a veil with a plastic penis during a staff meeting, an employee dressed as Santa Claus who asked three females personal questions, and the owner wearing a Santa hat with the word "Bitch" across the brow. Brennan sued the agency for sexual harassment, and the jury found in her favor. The agency moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The trial court found that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that Brennan was subjected to severe or pervasive sexual harassment and granted the motion.

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