Procedural Posture

Plaintiff former employee challenged a decision from the Superior Court, County of Ventura (California), which granted summary judgment in favor of defendant former employer in an employment discrimination action.

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Overview

The employee’s supervisor insulted her and used profanity in her presence. He also made a negative comment about her race. The employer terminated the employee after refusing her request to limit her contact with the supervisor. The employee then filed a discrimination action under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Cal. Gov’t. Code § 12900 et seq. After summary judgment was granted in favor of the employer, the employee sought review. The court held that the trial court erred by refusing to grant a continuance to consider the additional evidence presented by a deposition. The ethnic slur combined with the other evidence established a triable issue of fact on the issue of a hostile work environment. The fact that only one racial slur was made did not mean that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to establish a hostile work environment. However, the trial court did not err in finding that the employee was not disabled under the FEHA. Finally, there was a triable issue over whether or not the employer needed good cause to fire the employee.

Outcome

The court affirmed the trial court’s decision that the employee did not have a disability under the FEHA. The rest of the judgment was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.