California employee brings workplace discrimination suit

California employers have rules that prevent them from discriminating against employees. While many people may understand this, many employees don’t speak up when it happens to them. However, one California employee has spoken up by filing a workplace discrimination suit against his former employer — Home Depot.

According to this man, Home Depot had a policy of firing its male gay workers following the recession in 2008. The employee says that Home Depot was afraid that laws which required the company to extend health insurance benefits to registered partners of male gay employees would increase costs too much during the fragile economic times. Furthermore, the employee says that the company was concerned that HIV and AIDS diagnoses among the male gay employees would raise healthcare costs.

The man — who says he is gay — was fired in Feb. 2012 after working for the company for 25 years. Up until 2011, he had kept his sexuality a secret. However, in 2011 he registered his domestic partnership and added his partner to his Home Depot benefits.

The man claims that while he had experienced some sexual harassment prior to registering his partnership, the harassment increased shortly after. The man said one of his managers would send him lewd graphics and make comments. Furthermore, he says he was subjected to false write-ups and back-dated disciplinary action. Finally, the man says he was fired on false grounds without being given the chance to explain himself.

Workers who have experienced similar discrimination based on their sexual orientation should know that employee laws protect against this type of treatment. By bringing a suit, these employees may be able to receive compensation for the treatment they have suffered including back pay and punitive damages.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Gay Staff Too Costly for Home Depot, Man Says,” Matt Reynolds, Oct. 4, 2013

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