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Same-sex harassment ruled illegal

Ruling on a screenwriter’s suit against Silver Pictures, the state Supreme Court has decreed that sexual harassment involving people of the same sex is illegal in California.

In his suit, writer Wayne Mogilefsky had claimed sexual harassment by Michael Levy, who was then president of Silver Pictures.

(Silver Pictures and Levy, who has since left the company, denied the allegations and lawyers in the case say the suit has been settled on confidential terms.)

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence Waddington initially dismissed Mogilefsky’s suit, saying that the allegations, even if true, did not show sexual harassment under state law. But the 2nd District Court of Appeal overruled him last December.

The state Supreme Court refused to overturn that appeals court ruling.

In Thursday’s 3-0 decision, the state Supreme Court refused to remove from the books the appeals court’s ruling allowing the lawsuit to proceed. The high court’s action makes the appellate ruling final and binding in trial courts statewide.

Presiding Justice Arleigh Woods said there is no indication in state law that “the Legislature intended to limit protection from sexual harassment to male-female harassment.”

Silver Pictures did not seek reversal of the ruling, but a Sacramento law firm that represents employers asked the Supreme Court to eliminate the ruling as a legal precedent.

In the suit, Mogilefsky claimed that Levy demanded he stay overnight in his hotel suite on two occasions. He also alleged that Levy made sexual remarks to him and falsely told others the two had sex.

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