Reeves v. Safeway Stores, Inc. 6th Dist. No. H024375

The Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code sections 12900 et seq. (FEHA), prohibits an employer from firing a worker in retaliation for the worker’s complaining about incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace. (Gov. Code, § 12940, subds. (h), (j).) An employer can defeat such a claim by showing that it acted not in response to the worker’s complaints but for legitimate, nonretaliatory reasons. This case presents the question whether an employer may be liable for retaliatory discharge when the supervisor who initiates disciplinary proceedings acts with retaliatory animus, but the cause for discipline is separately investigated and the ultimate decision to discharge the plaintiff is made by a manager with no knowledge that the worker has engaged in protected activities. We hold that so long as the supervisor’s retaliatory motive was an actuating, but-for cause of the dismissal, the employer may be liable for retaliatory discharge.

Summary Judgment in favor of defendant REVERSED.