New in 2014: Sexual Harassment Need Not Be Motivated by Sexual Desire

SB 292 amends FEHA regarding sexual harassment by stating sexual harassment “need not be motivated by sexual desire.”

Specifically, California Government Code § 12940(j)(4)(C) was amended to change the existing definition as “harassment because of sex” to include “sexual harassment, gender harassment, and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.”

The new definition specifies that “sexually harassing conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire.”

Previously, the First District Court of Appeals in one case said, citing prior cases:

No evidence, however, was presented from which a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that they were an expression of actual sexual desire or intent by Seaman, or that they resulted from Kelley’s actual or perceived sexual orientation. The mere fact that words may have sexual content or connotations, or discuss sex, is not sufficient to establish sexual harassment.

Kelley v. Conco Companies, 196 Cal. App. 4th 191, 205 (2011).

Well, this amendment changes that!

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