California Supreme Court: ‘Mixed-motive’ applies in FEHA cases

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

by Keith A. Watts, Esq., Ogletree Deakins, Orange County

The California Supreme Court has issued a long-awaited decision on whether the “mixed-motive” de­­fense applies to employment discrimination claims under the California Fair Em­­ployment and Housing Act (FEHA).

The court held that even if an em­­ployee proves discrimination was a substantial motivating factor for an employment action, he or she can’t collect damages or demand reinstatement if the employer proves it would have made the same decision anyway. (Harris v. City of Santa Monica, No. S181004, California Supreme Court, 2013)

Accidents … and a pregnancy

Wynona was hired by the city of Santa Monica as a bus driver trainee in Octo­­ber 2004. During her training period, she had an accident that broke the glass on the bus’s back door. The city deemed the accident “preventable.”

In November 2004, after completing her training, the city promoted Wynona to probationary...(register to read more)

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