A physician-partner in a medical practice could assert a retaliation claim under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the California Court of Appeal has held, reversing a judgment in favor of a medical partnership. Fitzsimons v. California Emergency Physicians Med. Group, No. A131604 (Cal. App. Dist. 1 Div. 3 May 16, 2012). The physician-partner reported alleged harassment of female employees within the practice while she served as the practice’s medical director. The Court ruled that, because the FEHA protects “any person” from retaliation, the physician could assert a claim for retaliation, even though, as a partner, she could not sue the practice for employment discrimination.
Articles Discussing The California Fair Employment And Housing Act (FEHA).
In early 2010, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) proposed a series of new procedural regulations to govern the receipt, investigation, and conciliation of administrative complaints received by the department. Following a series of public hearings and a public comment period, the final regulations now have been approved by the Office of Administrative Law and filed with the Secretary of State. They will go into effect on October 17, 2011, and are codified at Title 2, California Code of Regulations, sections 10000 through 10066.
In a potentially dangerous precedent for employers, a California appeals court has ruled that an employee claiming employer sexual or racial harassment can prove the employer’s discriminatory intent by showing the employer harassed other workers, even though such harassment occurred outside the complaining employee’s presence. Pantoja v. Thomas J. Anton, et al., No. F058414 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 9, 2011). The Court found the lower court improperly excluded evidence of the employer’s alleged gender bias in the form of harassing activity against women employees other than the plaintiff. Although the excluded â€œme tooâ€ evidence related to harassing activity that occurred outside the plaintiff’s presence â€” and even at times when she was not an employee â€” it should have been admitted as evidence of a discriminatory or biased intent or motive under California Evidence Code Â§ 1101(b), the Court of Appeal concluded. The lower court’s exclusion of the evidence on the grounds it was propensity or character evidence under Evidence Code Â§ 1101(a) therefore was prejudicial.