Brown v. California State Personnel Board

213 Cal. Rptr. 53 (1985)

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Brown v. California State Personnel Board

California Court of Appeal
213 Cal. Rptr. 53 (1985)

Facts

Orie Brown (plaintiff) was a tenured professor at California State University at Sacramento (CSUS). In 1975, prior to receiving tenure, Brown was involved in two separate incidents with female students. Both incidents involved Brown attempting to embrace and kiss a female student in his office. Neither student mentioned the incident to school authorities, but the head of the department became aware of the incidents. According to school officials who became aware of the incidents years later, no action was taken at the time because the female students were unwilling to take any action. A year later, the incidents were brought up during Brown’s tenure review. In spite of the incidents, Brown was awarded tenure. In 1979, after receiving tenure, Brown was involved in another incident in which he told a female student that he wanted to sleep with her. The student filed a Title IX complaint with CSUS, triggering an administrative-review process that culminated in Brown being dismissed by the California State Personnel Board (the board) (defendant). During the administrative hearing, the board rejected Brown’s argument that the two earlier incidents were too remote to be considered. Brown’s termination notice cited his unprofessional conduct and failure to perform duties because of a series and pattern of sexual harassment of female students. Brown filed suit against the board, alleging that the disciplinary action taken against him violated the doctrine of laches. CSUS argued that the delay was excused and, alternatively, that Brown suffered no prejudice as a result. A trial court sided with CSUS. Brown appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Blease, J.)

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