Governor Brown Signs Corbett Bill Protecting Victims of Sexual Harassment

August 12, 2013

SB 292: Sexual Desire Not Necessary In Sexual Harassment Claims

SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 292, legislation aimed at protecting the rights of individuals who are sexually harassed, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown today.   

Authored by Senate Majority Leader Ellen M. Corbett (D-East Bay), this bill addresses the decision in Kelley v. Conco Companies (2011) 196 Cal. App.4th 191, 1 Dist., and clarifies that sexually harassing conduct under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) does not need to be motivated by sexual desire in order to be classified as ‘sexual harassment.’

In 2011, the First District California Court of Appeal held in Kelley that the plaintiff in that same-sex harassment case had not proven that the harasser had a sexual desire for the plaintiff, which remained one avenue necessary in order for the case to proceed.  The result of Kelley has confused sexual harassment law and seemingly weakened the protections against sexual conduct that leads to a hostile work environment.

“SB 292 ensures that all Californians who are sexually harassed will receive the wide range of protections under existing law,” Senator Corbett said.  “I thank Governor Brown for signing this important legislation that protects all individuals whenever they are sexually harassed in the workplace, regardless of motivation.  As elected officials, we must always strive to protect all Californians, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or any other personal characteristic.”

SB 292 is sponsored by the California Employment Lawyers Association and supported by the American Association of University Women, California Labor Federation, California Teachers Association, Equality California, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Transgender Law Center.