A Person Providing Services Pursuant to a Contract Has Standing to Sue Under FEHA

This is an ugly sexual harassment case. Plaintiff was a phlebotomist employed by a company who had a contract with a police department to provide phlebotomist services. Plaintiff would go to police stations and jails to take blood samples from suspects for testing. One of the police officers that plaintiff came into contact with started sexually harassing her.

Officer Garcia is the typical degenerate sexual harasser who said the most awful things to plaintiff. Officer Garcia is why laws like FEHA exist. He has no morals, no compass, and to call him a pig would be a disservice to pigs.

Plaintiff reluctantly told a supervisor about the harassment after she was asked about it and a complaint was made to the police department, which—shockingly—conducted a real investigation and concluded Officer Garcia was not fit for service and Officer Garcia soon joined the ranks of the unemployed.

Plaintiff then sued the police department and the case went to trial on a FEHA sexual harassment claim. The jury found for plaintiff and awarded her $1.5 million in damages.

Defendant police department appealed claiming plaintiff lacked standing to sue the police department, despite California Government Code § 12940(j) which says that an employer may be held liable for its employee’s harassment of “a person providing services pursuant to a contract.”

Now to me, the language is pretty clear. Plaintiff in this case has standing to sue. The court agreed, but it took a few pages of discussion to flesh it out. Including a discussion of legislative intent, which, when I was in law school, was not considered in statutory construction unless the language of the statute was vague.

Here the language is not vague, and is very precise.

So plaintiff has standing, but since the trial court thought the verdict was too large, it looks like the case will be tried again, unless the police department does the smart thing and settles the case.

All of this because of Officer Garcia!

Kimberli Hirst v. City of Oceanside, 236 Cal. App. 4th 774 (2015).

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