So, a plaintiff in a sexual harassment case attempts to introduce evidence that the harasser harassed other employees, but not in the plaintiff’s presence, and that the conduct was not directed at the plaintiff.
Can the plaintiff use that information to prove she was harassed? Basically, the plaintiff wants to say, “The defendant is a bad person because he mistreated others; therefore, it is more likely that he harassed me even though he denied doing so.” That’s what’s called “character evidence,” and it’s usually inadmissible.
Except when it’s admissible. The Evidence Code allows for admission of “character” evidence if used to prove intent, motivation, common plan and other things.
Thomas Anton was a lawyer. Lorraine Pantoja was a member of the staff. Pantoja alleged Anton touched her inappropriately, used slurs and profanity, and engaged in other conduct amounting to sexual harassment. Anton denied engaging in those behaviors.
Pantoja’s lawyers attempted to introduce other female employees’ testimony that Anton engaged in similar conduct toward them. Anton successfully had that conduct excluded as character evidence. But Pantoja’s lawyers argued that evidence was necessary to prove Anton’s intent. A jury decided in favor of Anton. Pantoja appealed.
The court of appeal reversed the defense verdict and judgment. The court decided that the trial court erroneously did not permit “me too” evidence to prove Anton’s anti-female intent. The evidence also was admissible to impeach Anton’s denials. A significant issue was whether Anton used profanity “at the situation” or directed toward females.
This case is significant for a few reasons:
Contact The Rubin Law Corporation by e-mailing us or calling 310-385-0777 to speak with a lawyer about liability for supervisor sexual harassment or liability for co-worker sexual harassment.
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