The California Supreme Court in Jones v. The Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership ruled that individuals may not be held personally liable for retaliation claims under the FEHA.
If you read the FEHA, section 12940(h) makes it unlawful for any “employer, labor organization, employment agency, or person” to retaliate against an employee. Read literally, this would appear to impose individual liability on a “person” who retaliates. California intermediate appellate courts have wrestled with the issue for years. However, in a decision split 4 to 3 among the justices, the California Supreme Court has finally decided the matter.
As outlet manager, Jones was responsible for the restaurant, bar, catering and banquet events, and the beverage cart service to golfers on the golf course. In October 2000, The Lodge hired a new beverage director, Jean Weiss. That is when the alleged problems began. Weiss and the kitchen manager developed a habit of telling jokes and making sexual remarks about women and employees known as “cart girls.” They also made fun of Jones’ sexual orientation. Jones complained about this treatment. Jones alleged that Weiss became hostile and threatened to fire Jones if he reported the matter to human resources. Jones did complaint to the HR manager and Weiss subsequently retaliated by writing him up for a laundry list of performance problems. Finally, Jones filed a DFEH complaint, resigned, and sued for sexual orientation discrimination against his employer and for retaliation against his employer and his supervisor, Weiss, individually.
Continue Reading California Supreme Court: No Individual Liability for Retaliation under FEHA: Jones v. The Lodge at Torrey Pines Partnership