In Brennan v. Townsend & O'Leary Enterprises, Inc., a California court of appeal affirmed a judgment notwithstanding the verdict for the employer that overturned a $250,000 jury verdict in employee's favor for sexual harassment. Plaintiff's principal evidence was an August 2004 email that described the size of plaintiff's breasts and suggested that she operated in a "mindless" state. The court described the email as "rude, insulting, and unprofessional" but discounted the legal significance of the email as an isolated event that was written by a manager who was not plaintiff's supervisor. Other evidence included three alleged incidents of sexual conduct over a three-year period before the August 2004 email: (1) a supervisor wearing a sexual device on his head for about five minutes at a staff meeting in 2000; (2) a manager dressed as Santa who asked female employees to sit on his lap at an offsite Christmas party in 2000 or 2001; and (3) another manager wearing a hat with a sexual expletive at another offsite Christmas party in 2002 or 2003. Plaintiff further alleged that a supervisor asked her about her personal life, but admitted that the questions were asked out of concern for her in light of a difficult time she was having in her personal life. The court observed that "conspicuously absent" was any evidence that the supervisor's conduct was offensive. Ultimately, the court held that plaintiff failed to show the sort of severe or pervasive conduct needed to establish a hostile work environment.
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