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Employee’s Sexual History Not Admissible

As California’s leading and largest (covering ten major cities throughout the state including Los Angeles, Pasadena, Simi Valley, Manhattan Beach, Orange County, Fresno, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Rosa), many of the hundreds of cases Danz Danz & Associates handle annually involve allegations of sexual harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation. Sexual harassment is now illegal in California regardless of whether the perpetrator has a sexual desire towards the victim or not, but either way, the sexual history of the victim is not  the proper subject of inquiry at depositions or in trial.

in a recent case, the female production “lead” was being harassed by a visiting “dignitary” (if that’s not a misnomer, we don’t know what is!) from corporate headquarters. He would keep her after hours to discuss “performance issues” (his, or her’s?) and ask her out to lunch to discuss production hold ups (curiously no one else was considered important enough to invite). When complaints to HR and then to the federal agency tasked with preventing discrimination,  fell on deaf ears and the harassment rose to the level of “quid pro quo (“do this for me, and I’ll see to it that you get more hours”, as an example), our client quit.  At deposition (a court proceeding held in a conference room usually at one of the attorney’s offices) the company’s attorney demanded to know if the victim was “still sleeping” with a co worker.  We refused to allow the plaintiff to answer that question and the court not only upheld our client’s privacy rights not to answer (also protected under California Constitution), but awarded substantial sanctions for the abusive, repetitive nature of the questioning.

Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 2017.220, no discovery concerning the plaintiff’s sexual conduct with individuals other than the alleged perpetrator is allowed in cases involving sexual harassment, assault or sexual battery. This latter topic is actually protected specifically (and whether or not it involves an employment relationship) under Civil Code 1708.5. A court can order this information released, but the showing must be extraordinary and would not routinely be granted.

Danz & Associates routinely litigates sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination cases throughout the state and most cases result in verdicts or settlements in the six figures. Our Inland Empire office recently obtained a $400,000 settlement for a victim who was harassed and left in a very dangerous work situation while the male members of the production line enjoyed a BBQ in the company parking lot. Each case is different, let us review your facts and advise you. If our firm isn’t right for your case, we’ll find one that is. We routinely refer out hundreds of workman’s compensation claims a year and many times will work with victims of sexual harassment to fashion a complete remedy.