California Supreme Court holds that statute of limitations runs from the time the employee should have discovered they were denied a promotion based on a failure to engage in sexual acts, rather than the time the promotion was given to another

2021 case review: Pollock v. Tri-Modal Distribution Services, Inc.

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The Supreme Court made a decision that objectively benefits Plaintiffs who bring actions under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Cal. Gov. Code 12940, subd. (j), 12960, when alleging, as in this case, harassment.

In this case, Plaintiff alleged that she was not promoted because she refused to have sex with the defendant company’s executive vice president. The defendants brought a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Plaintiff had failed to bring suit within the statute of limitations, as Plaintiff contended that the harassment had been going on for some years.

The Court of Appeals upheld the summary judgment, as well as an award of costs to the employer. The Supreme Court, however, reversed, holding that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the Plaintiff knows or reasonably should have known of the failure to promote as a result of the refusal to engage in sexual acts. The Supreme Court held that the running of the statute was not triggered simply by the employer having offered a promotion to another employee, who accepted it, and that the court of appeal erred in awarding costs on appeal to Defendants without first finding that Plaintiff's underlying claim was objectively groundless.