CDF’s Partner and Blog Editor, Robin Largent, was recently quoted in The Recorder’s article “Justices Reach Middle Ground in Pregnancy Bias Suit.”
On February 7, 2013, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Harris v. Santa Monica, addressing the “mixed motive” defense to discrimination claims under FEHA. In short, the Court held that in mixed motive cases, if an employee proves that an employment action was substantially motivated by discrimination, the burden shifts to the employer to prove that it would have made the same decision for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons.
If the employer succeeds in proving this, then the employer wins, right? Not so fast. If the employer proves the same decision would have been made for legitimate reasons, the employee may not recover back pay, reinstatement, or emotional distress damages. However, the employee may still be entitled to declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and—the real kicker—attorneys’ fees.
Largent was quoted in The Recorder’s article on this same topic stating, "A lot of employers getting hit with these types of claims are really pressured early on to settle because of the threat of attorneys’ fees," said Robin Largent, a partner with Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger in Sacramento. "This opinion really kind of furthers that pressure."
To see Largent’s blog post, “California Supreme Court Splits the Baby on Mixed Motive Defense to Discrimination Claims,” click HERE.
To read the full article in The Recorder, click HERE.