California Supreme Court Significantly Limits Use of “Stray Remarks” Rule in Summary Judgment Motions


On August 5, 2010 the California Supreme Court issued its unanimous opinion in Reid v. Google, Inc.1 The Court’s ruling placed limits on the use of the “stray remarks” doctrine—a rule recognized by many federal courts that allows trial courts considering summary judgment motions to deem certain remarks allegedly reflecting bias as insufficient to create a triable issue of fact. The opinion significantly undermines what has been a potent weapon used by defense counsel in employment discrimination cases. The ruling also suggests that employers should train their employees and managers to avoid any remarks suggestive of age bias—as well as other forms of bias—in today’s multi-generational workforce.

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