Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Paramour Cases - California Style

Although not very successful as a Title VII cause of action, employees who allege they have been mistreated because their boss favors a fellow employee with whom he or she has a sexual relationship, get another shot today before the California Supreme Court. Sacramento Bee reporter, Claire Cooper has the story on the so called Chowchilla case, named for the women's prison where the alleged misdeeds occurred.

You have to love a story with a lead like "Prisons are notorious for being hotbeds of sexual intrigue, where the strong prey on the weak. In one California institution, the offenders weren't inmates, though." The story goes on to give the heart of the allegations:

According to court papers, Lewis Kuykendall, the warden of Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla in the 1990s, had at least three lovers on staff. He promoted them and bestowed other advantages. One of those women, in turn, formed a close personal alliance with another high-ranking woman. Together, they made work intolerable for two female officers after they threatened to complain. The situation continued for several years.

Here is a link to the summary of the case as posted on the Supreme Court's calendar for today and the underlying appeals court decision [pdf], denying the claim.

If the California Supreme Court issues a favorable decision, even though it is under a California statute, employers would be well served to prepare for another round of such cases. Put most succinctly, executives 'fooling around' with office mates, should cut it out now.

Update: The California Supreme Court has now decided the case, reversing the lower courts. For a link to the decision see Paramour Claims Live in California.

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