Sexual Harassment / Sexual Orientation Harassment – Case Example

Sexual Orientation Harassment Case Example

Throughout his employment, Vinny (male) had to endure a hostile work environment of constant, severe and unwelcome sexual harassment and touching.

A co-worker exposed himself to Vinny multiple times and would call him a faggot. Vinny made a formal written complaint to HR about this and of sexual harassment towards a female employee. Soon thereafter his employer retaliated against him for his written complaints. He received two write-ups and was terminated the very next month.

Same-sex sexual harassment is illegal. So is sexual orientation harassment, even if the person’s involved are heterosexual and only perceived to be LGBTQ+. Moreover, it does not matter if the motivation of the harasser is sexual desire—it is illegal under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The sexual misconduct and the company’s retaliation and wrongful termination had a devastating effect on Vinny and his family. We helped Vinny get justice.
If you have suffered sexual orientation harassment or discrimination in your workplace or have been retaliated against, our firm may be able to get you justice too. Give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free consultation.

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Man Awarded $450K After Workplace Birthday Party Panic Attack Leads to Termination

Disability Discrimination News

Kevin Berling was awarded $300,000 for emotional distress and $150,000 in lost wages for a disability discrimination case in late March after a two day trial in Kenton County, Kentucky.

Berling sued his employer, Gravity Diagnostics after the company threw him a birthday party against his request that the company not celebrate his birthday because it would cause him immense stress.

Berling suffers from anxiety disorders and panic attacks. He worked at Gravity Diagnostics for approximately 10 months, when he requested that the company not celebrate his birthday as it normally does for its employees. Berling told his supervisor that a birthday celebration would be a stressful trigger of bad childhood memories surrounding his parents’ divorce. The lawsuit outlines that the office manager ends up forgetting his request and the party is still held for Berling. As a result, Berling suffers a panic attack and leaves.

The next day, Berling is called into a meeting with his bosses where he suffers another panic attack when his supervisor chastised him for “stealing his co-workers” joy and for “being a little girl.” The company then fires Berling saying that they were worried about him being angry and violent. 

As part of the lawsuit, Berling claimed the company discriminated against him based on his disability, and retaliated against him for requesting a reasonable accommodation for his disability. The jury returned the verdict after two days in trial and awarded Berling a $450,000 win. 

The company continues to deny liability and is pursuing port-trial options. The company’s founder and COO, Julie Brazil, stated that the verdict sets a dangerous precedent in which workplace violence will be tolerated unless physical violence occurs, and stated that her employees were the victims, not Berling. The jury didn’t seem to agree with Brazil once they got to meet Berling at trial and saw that the company’s claim that he posed a threat was more of an exaggeration.

Employers must accommodate their employee’s disabilities and cannot terminate someone based on a protected category such as a disability or medical condition.  Further, the law prohibits harassment of an employee based on medical condition or disability. 

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, retaliated or discriminated against based on a protected category such as a physical or mental disability, or medical condition, give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free intake.

Learn more about Disability Harassment / Disability Discrimination Law

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National Origin & Race Discrimination – Case Example

A recently handled national origin and racial discrimination case

Lisa is a young woman of Chinese descent. Lisa was subjected to harassment and discrimination at work based on her national origin and race.

Lisa’s boss would make racist comments such as “fucking Chinese people”, constantly saying that there are too many Chinese employees and saying that they needed to stop hiring Chinese people. Lisa’s employer additionally instructed Lisa not to hire certain types of people, such as “blacks.” Lisa protested and complained about the racist comments to her employer.

Instead of trying to cure the discrimination and harassment as required by law, Lisa’s employer retaliated against her and terminated her employment because she protested her boss’ discrimination and harassment.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits an employer, including any supervisor, from harassing or discriminating an employee based on national origin or race. We helped Lisa get justice for the racial harassment and retaliation she endured. We were able to get her a favorable settlement.

If you have been harasseddiscriminated, or retaliated against based on a protected category such as race or national origin, give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free intake.

Learn more about National Origin / Race Discrimination Law

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Whistleblowing – Case Example

Whistleblower Employment Lawyer

Patty was a wonderful professional who performed her job exceptionally. Patty had complained to her Employer about fraud that was being committed by her boss in violation of the USA Patriot Act. Instead of taking action to address the fraud, the company let the fraud continue unabated. Moreover, management retaliated against Patty by bullying and intimidating her and telling her to look the other way on financial crimes. 

When Patty had to take a medical leave of absence due to a serious medical condition affecting her day-to-day life, management retaliated by not accommodating and instead terminating her employment before she was fully released to work by her doctor. 

Patty’s employer discriminated against her by terminating her employment because of her disability and in retaliation for exercising her rights under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and California Labor Code. 

If you suspect that you have been retaliated against or wrongfully terminated for making complaints of illegal activity, or because of your disability or medical condition, give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free intake.

Learn more about Whistleblowing Law / Disability & Medical Leave Law in California

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Georgia Police Department Accused of Rampant Sexual Harassment 

Georgia Police Department Accused of Rampant Sexual Harassment

A sexual harassment and hostile workplace probe into reported allegations against a Georgia police chief revealed a persistent hostile workplace for female employees in the Lawrenceville Police Department. The sexual harassment investigation led to the suspension of Georgia police Chief Tim Wallis, the verbal counseling of Wallis’ assistant chief, Maj. Myron Walker, and led to the resignation of Capt. Christopher Ryan Morgan, who was also found to have violated the city’s harassment policy.

Investigations into allegations uncovered:

1/ The investigation determined that Chief Wallis made sexist remarks to a female officer.

2/ It’s reported that he said “You walk around here looking like a Hooters girl when the air conditioner’s not working ” and “Are you working here or are you working at Hooters? Go get you some orange shorts on”

3/ The Captain violated the city’s sexual harassment policy when he made lewd comments via text to a female officer. It was reported that he asked her to send pictures of her breasts and told her she would look better naked.

3/ Wallis and other officers are also cited as creating a hostile work environment.

4/ The female complainant had originally sought help from Walker and other supervisors in dealing with Morgan’s harassment but they did little to help her.

5/ The report also exposes a years-long sexist culture in the department in which female employees felt undervalued while the network of men in the department, who committed bad behavior, were protected.

With these investigations, the city of Lawrenceville announced that it was updating trainings and would clarify its submission process of confidential employee complaints. 

Sexual harassment is prohibited under California and federal law. It is illegal for employers to allow anyone to be sexually harassed at work. Moreover, if the harassment is widespread enough it can create a hostile work environment

What other male dominated work environments do you think are still permeated with sexual harassment?

Learn More About Sexual Harassment Law / How to Report Sexual Harassment at Work?

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Pregnancy & Disability Leave – Case Example

Pregnancy / Disability Leave

Dalia is a young woman who had consistently performed well at her job. Dalia became pregnant and took a pregnancy leave because of her medical condition. She regularly kept in contact with her employer at all times. She provided doctor’s notes to her employer that she was disabled because she suffered from post-partum depression.

But, out of nowhere, Dalia was suddenly and callously fired the day before her one year work anniversary.  Her employer thought that by terminating her before her 1 year work anniversary, they would be home free to terminate her because California’s Family Rights Act would not apply.  But, they failed to realize that she was protected from their discrimination by other California laws, including the Fair Employment and Housing Act.  

Dalia’s employer unlawfully used her pregnancy and medical condition against her, and terminated her employment to avoid dealing with her medical and parental needs.

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated based on a protected category such as pregnancy, disability, or a medical condition, or been denied medical leave, give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free confidential consultation.  

Learn more about Medical Leave / Disability Law

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EEOC Sues Chipotle Over Rampant Female on Male Sexual Harassment (Including Sex Scorecard)

The EEOC is suing a Chipotle Mexican Grill in San Jose, California on behalf of a male shift manager. The 22-year-old claims that he experienced sexual harassment and retaliation during his employment. Here is what we know about the allegations: 

  1. A female general manager verbally and physically harassed him, including slapping and groping his genitals. 
  2. The female GM kept a daily “sex scoreboard” in the office that revealed details of her staff’s sex lives.  
  3. She told the complainant that she wanted to watch him and his girlfriend have sex. She also told him that she wanted to have a threesome with them. 
  4. The GM frequently discussed inappropriate topics such as her sex life and the sex lives of her staff members.
  5. The complainant reported this behavior to upper management but was later locked in the walk-in freezer and forced to quit. 

Though Chipotle refuses to comment on the specifics of this lawsuit, a spokesperson has come forward saying that the company doesn’t tolerate “discrimination or harassment in any form” and that they will take “appropriate action” whenever reports of harassment come forth in the restaurant. 

How common do you think “female on male” sexual harassment takes place in the workplace?

*image by Mike Mozart

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NBC Allegedly Only Hiring Good Looking People

An employee who was recently fired from NBC is now claiming that she was told NBC only wanted to hire attractive people. Stephanie Belanger claims that the recruiter who initially contacted her for a job as an audio-visual coordinator wanted to see her Facebook and Instagram profile before being set up with an interview. The recruiter allegedly told Belanger that NBC was specifically asking for “good looking employees”. 

In addition, Belanger (25) claims that she experienced disability discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. Here is what we know about the case: 

1/ Belanger claims that her supervisor, John Carleo, called her a series of inappropriate things such as a whore and the hottest coordinator in the office. In addition, he also referenced himself as her boyfriend without the benefits. 

2/ Carleo told Belanger that he had to fire her, otherwise his girlfriend would break up with him. 

3/ Belanger is epileptic and had two seizures at work. After the second one, she was demoted and her salary was cut. 

At the time, Belanger apparently complained to the network, but they didn’t take her claims seriously. 

Do you think it is illegal to only hire good looking employees?  Couldn’t this be age discrimination?

*image by Tobias Zils

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NBA’s Atlanta Hawks Sued by Employee for Race Discrimination and Retaliation

Samuel Hayes, a former Atlanta Hawks security manager, claims that black performers and entertainers were subjected to more intense security procedures than their white counterparts. He also claims he was fired because of his race and complaints of race based preferences. Not only is he filing a suit against the NBA basketball team but also against the team’s vice president of customer service and security. Hayes is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. 

Here is what we know about the allegations: 

  • The plaintiff claims that, while white performers were frequently allowed to bypass security measures, black performers were not. 
  • When Adele (white) requested to access the arena through the loading dock, her requests were fulfilled. When 2 Chainz, Jeezy, and The Dream (all black) requested to bypass security, their requests were rejected. When several WWE performers (white) asked for special parking privileges, their requests were fulfilled. When several black entertainers at the Old School Hop Fest requested similar privileges, their requests were rejected. 
  • When the black mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, asked if he could be dropped off at the media entrance, his request was denied (even though white entertainers were frequently allowed to do so). Because of Reed’s “special requests”, Hayes claims that he heard complaints such as “he thinks he’s a celebrity” and “he thinks he owns the place.”

Officials at Kasim Reed’s office deny that Reed requested for special privileges from Phillips Arena. They even go as far to say that the “the claims concerning Mayor Reed are totally and completely false.”

The Atlanta Hawks team claims that the plaintiff wasn’t fired because of his race, but because of poor performance. According to Hayes, he was fired for repeatedly complaining about the Hawks’ racially charged security measures.

Do you think Hayes’ claims have merit? Or do you think he’s simply taking advantage of his situation?

*image by Joey Kyber

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Employment Defense Lawyer Can Be Sued for Retaliation for Reporting Plaintiff to ICE for Deportation

Recently, an employee filed suit against his employer in state court. In what is now being considered retaliation, the employer’s attorney contacted ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to have the plaintiff removed from the United States at his deposition.   

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a retaliation claim can be made against any person regardless of whether the action is directly from the employer as long as the person is acting in the employer’s interest.  

Here is what we know about the case: 

The plaintiff, Jose Arnulfo Arias, began working for Angelo Dairy in California in 1995. When Arias was hired, the form regarding his employment eligibility in the US (I9) was not completed. the Angelos used Arias’ illegal employment status in the US to manipulate him. When Arias informed the Angelos that he was offered another position at another dairy, they threatened to report him to federal authorities. Arias continued his employment with the Angelos for fear of being deported. 

In 2006, Arias sued Angelo Dairy for a multitude of workplace violations including refusing to pay overtime, rest, or meal periods. The California Superior Court set a trial date on August 15, 2011. 

Ten weeks prior to the start of the trial date, Anthony Raimondo, the Angelos’ attorney, contacted ICE so that they would remove Arias from the US, a plan that would single handedly derail Arias’ lawsuit. When Arias became aware of the deportation conspiracy against him, he began to suffer from anxiety, mental anguish, and other emotional distress— fearing that he would be separated from his family. 

It seems that Raimondo has assisted with at least five deportations in the same manner. He reaches out to ICE on behalf of the employers he is representing, turning in employees who have asserted their workplace rights. 

So does this mean that Raimondo can be sued for retaliation, even though he never actually employed Arias? Yes. “Congress made it illegal for any person, not just an employer, to retaliate against any employee for reporting conduct under or related to violations of the federal minimum wage or maximum hour laws, whether or not the employer’s conduct does in fact violate those laws.”

How offensive do you consider the attorney’s conduct?  How much do you think the attorney should be liable for his actions?

*photo by Jenny Hill

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Shirazi Law Firm, PC

Shirazi Law Firm, PC

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Phone: 310 400 5891
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