Kotla v. The Regents of the Univ. of Cal., 115 Cal. App. 4th 283 (2004)

Dee Kotla, a former computer support technician, sued the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory (the Lab) for retaliation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) after she testified at a deposition in support of another employee’s claim of sexual harassment. The Lab contended that it had terminated Kotla’s employment as a result of her misuse of the Lab’s computers for outside business activities. At trial, the jury awarded Kotla $325,000 in economic damages and $675,000 in emotional distress damages (reduced following a remittitur by the Court to $420,000). On appeal, the Lab contended that the trial court had erred in permitting Kotla’s human resources expert (an industrial psychologist) to testify that certain facts were “indicators” that the Lab had discharged Kotla for retaliatory reasons. The Court of Appeal agreed with the Lab, reversed the judgment that had been entered in favor of Kotla and held that the expert’s testimony improperly invaded the province of the jury.