Retaliation and Bona Fide Partners

On May 16th, 2012, in Fitzsimons v. California Emergency Physicians Medical Group (California Courts of Appeal – 1st District, No. A131604), the court held that a plaintiff's retaliation claim is valid even when made by a bona fide partner of the defendant's business. This holding substantiated the argument that one does not necessarily need to be an employee of the defendant to successfully argue a retaliation claim.

In Fitzsimons, the plaintiff served as a partner for a large medical group. The plaintiff alleged that she was terminated in a retaliatory fashion following a report of sexual harassment she made to company supervisors. The trial court held that because the plaintiff was a partner, she did not have standing to allege retaliation.

The appellate court reversed the trial court's finding and held that a bona fide partner does, in fact, have standing to allege a cause of action for retaliation. The court noted that the employment relationship is the key to discrimination liability. Because the plaintiff was alleging sexual discrimination on behalf of those situated in an employer-employee relationship, her claim was not prevented due to her position as a bona fide partner.

If you have suffered from retaliation, discrimination, or sexual harassment, please do not hesitate to contact a Orange County Employment attorney today.

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