CA Supreme Court Rejects Liability for Supervisors in Retaliation Cases

Supervisors cannot be held liable for retaliation under the California Fair Employment & Housing Act.

The California Supreme Court in Jones v. The Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership issued the decision.

Retaliation is becoming much more popular in employee relations cases, since it’s much easier to prove retaliation than harassment. Often, a harassment investigation can only reveal a ‘he said, she said’ scenario. The standard for proving retaliation is much lower, and many plaintiff’s attorneys are dropping the harassment allegations and staying only with retaliation.

According to Jackson Lewis:

Although individual supervisors cannot be held liable for retaliation, employers should not jump to the conclusion that this decision will reduce FEHA claims significantly. Retaliation claims against individual supervisors are usually only one of several claims asserted by former employees who sue. Indeed the history of this case aptly illustrates this point: Jones asserted claims for harassment and discrimination, as well as retaliation. While litigation costs may diminish somewhat, employers can best avoid the courthouse by adopting and enforcing anti-harassment and -discrimination policies and by training their supervisors to recognize workplace harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

That means training your supervisors, conducting an effective investigation, and implementing policies that absolutely forbid harassment – and retaliation

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