Code Section

Government Code - GOV


  ( Title 2 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 134. )


  ( Division 3 added by Stats. 1945, Ch. 111. )


  ( Part 2.8 added by Stats. 1980, Ch. 992. )

CHAPTER 3. Findings and Declarations of Policy [12920 - 12923]
  ( Chapter 3 added by Stats. 1980, Ch. 992. )


The Legislature hereby declares its intent with regard to application of the laws about harassment contained in this part.

(a) The purpose of these laws is to provide all Californians with an equal opportunity to succeed in the workplace and should be applied accordingly by the courts. The Legislature hereby declares that harassment creates a hostile, offensive, oppressive, or intimidating work environment and deprives victims of their statutory right to work in a place free of discrimination when the harassing conduct sufficiently offends, humiliates, distresses, or intrudes upon its victim, so as to disrupt the victim’s emotional tranquility in the workplace, affect the victim’s ability to perform the job as usual, or otherwise interfere with and undermine the victim’s personal sense of well-being. In this regard, the Legislature affirms its approval of the standard set forth by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her concurrence in Harris v. Forklift Systems (1993) 510 U.S. 17 that in a workplace harassment suit “the plaintiff need not prove that his or her tangible productivity has declined as a result of the harassment. It suffices to prove that a reasonable person subjected to the discriminatory conduct would find, as the plaintiff did, that the harassment so altered working conditions as to make it more difficult to do the job.” (Id. at 26).

(b) A single incident of harassing conduct is sufficient to create a triable issue regarding the existence of a hostile work environment if the harassing conduct has unreasonably interfered with the plaintiff’s work performance or created an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. In that regard, the Legislature hereby declares its rejection of the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s opinion in Brooks v. City of San Mateo (2000) 229 F.3d 917 and states that the opinion shall not be used in determining what kind of conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to constitute a violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

(c) The existence of a hostile work environment depends upon the totality of the circumstances and a discriminatory remark, even if not made directly in the context of an employment decision or uttered by a nondecisionmaker, may be relevant, circumstantial evidence of discrimination. In that regard, the Legislature affirms the decision in Reid v. Google, Inc. (2010) 50 Cal.4th 512 in its rejection of the “stray remarks doctrine.”

(d) The legal standard for sexual harassment should not vary by type of workplace. It is irrelevant that a particular occupation may have been characterized by a greater frequency of sexually related commentary or conduct in the past. In determining whether or not a hostile environment existed, courts should only consider the nature of the workplace when engaging in or witnessing prurient conduct and commentary is integral to the performance of the job duties. The Legislature hereby declares its disapproval of any language, reasoning, or holding to the contrary in the decision Kelley v. Conco Companies (2011) 196 Cal.App.4th 191.

(e) Harassment cases are rarely appropriate for disposition on summary judgment. In that regard, the Legislature affirms the decision in Nazir v. United Airlines, Inc. (2009) 178 Cal.App.4th 243 and its observation that hostile working environment cases involve issues “not determinable on paper.”

(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 955, Sec. 1. (SB 1300) Effective January 1, 2019.)