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California Court of Appeal Affirms Dismissal of Sexual Harassment Case

March 9, 2001

Kauff, McClain & McGuire LLP succeeded in persuading the California Superior Court to grant summary judgment on sexual harassment claims by a female health care employee who complained of a physician's profanity and unfounded criticism. Plaintiff appealed and the California Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. While there was evidence of vulgarity on the part of the physician (some of which he directed at the plaintiff), we successfully argued that the conduct was too isolated or sporadic to constitute actionable sexual harassment. The law does not impose "zero tolerance" for offensive language in the workplace. Instead, the conduct, to be actionable, must be sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an abusive work environment. We successfully persuaded both the trial and appellate courts that the conduct at issue did not rise to that level.