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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Harris v. City of Santa Monica: Supreme Court to Rule on Mixed-Motive Defense

In Harris v. City of Santa Monica, the California Supreme Court will determine whether the mixed-motive defense applies to employment discrimination claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA").  Cal. Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.

The Court of Appeal in Harris (2010) 181 Cal.App.4th 1094 reversed and remanded a judgment on jury verdict in favor of a bus driver who alleged pregnancy discrimination. The Court held:

  1. The trial court (Los Angeles Superior, Judge Soussan Bruguera) erred by refusing to give a "mixed-motive" jury instruction (BAJI No. 12.26) and instead giving a "motivating factor" instruction (CACI No. 2500); but 
  2. The error did not entitle the city to judgment notwithstanding the verdict because there was substantial evidence to support the verdict for Harris. 
Harris is fully briefed, but the Court has not yet scheduled oral argument. The Court's case summary is here.  I have added Harris to my Supreme Court watch list.  

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