by Sayema Hameed
On Monday, August 12, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 292, which amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), Government Code Section 12940, to state as follows:
[blockquote]Sexually harassing conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire.[/blockquote]
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This amendment, authored by California Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-East Bay), is aimed at protecting the rights of individuals who are sexually harassed in the workplace and was proposed in direct response to the Court of Appeal’s decision in Kelley v. Conco Companies (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 191.
In Kelley, a male apprentice ironworker employed by The Conco Companies complained that he was subjected to a barrage of graphic, vulgar, sexually demeaning comments and gestures, and later to similar comments by male coworkers, and that he was also subjected to physical threats by coworkers in retaliation for his complaints about his supervisor. You can read the supervisor’s explicit comments in the Kelley opinion here.
After his suspension by his union, rendering him ineligible for employment, and the company’s decision not to rehire him, Kelly sued Conco and his former supervisor for sexual harassment, retaliation and related claims.