Court of Appeal: Let Jury Decide Co-Worker Harassment Case

The Court of Appeal issued a "writ" of mandate, overturning a summary judgment order on a harassment claim.  Mustafa Rehmani worked for Ericsson in Silicon Valley.  He is Pakistani. Many of his co-workers are Indian. Rehmani claimed the Indian co-workers gave him a rough ride.  The court describes a series of incidents, over a few months, in which there were political jokes, terrorism jokes, and the like.  However, these jokes were pretty isolated, occurring about a month apart. 

The court decided that the allegations were enough to send the case to a jury and that the trial court should not have granted summary judgment.  The court also held that the company's management had sufficient notice of the conduct, and there was insufficient evidence of an adequate response to the conduct to justify summary resolution.

If you believe the plaintiff's version of events (which the court had to do), he told his manager repeatedly about his co-workers' anti-Pakistani / anti-Muslim jokes.  But she brushed them off.  So, a very thin case of national origin harassment will go to a jury, or a mediator.  A little management training (or better training) could have helped here.

The case is Rehmani v. Superior Court and the opinion is here.