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Sacramento Employment Law Blog


Lawsuit: Candy company not so sweet in firing of lesbian employee

There are employers in California who understand their duty to treat employees fairly and comply with state and federal employment laws. However, there are also many employers who do not take this responsibility seriously. They try and get away with mistreating employees by unfairly hiring, promoting or firing them based on discriminatory practices. They cut corners when it comes to informing people of their rights as an employee and hope that they will not be called out on it.

But it is important for employees to remember that they do have rights. Employment laws protect workers from being sexually harassed, denied medical leave or discriminated against based on race, gender, sexual orientation or pregnancy. One woman recently took legal action against her former employer after she says she endured discrimination and wrongful termination based on her pregnancy and relationship with another woman.

The mistreatment did not begin until after she had been employed at a popular candy company for about a decade. For 10 years, she says there was no indication that there were any issues with her performance. However, after she suffered with a difficult pregnancy, the working relationships she had with her employers and co-workers started deteriorating. When they learned that she was a lesbian, however, the mistreatment intensified until she was fired.

According to her lawsuit, her pregnancy came first. A new supervisor had been hired who allegedly had little patience for the woman’s need for accommodations. The woman had a difficult pregnancy and needed to be hospitalized a number of times before having to take maternity leave unexpectedly. The supervisor gave her a poor review of her performance.

When others later learned of her sexual orientation, she faced additional mistreatment and was given an impossible workload. The woman says the workload was increased significantly so that employers could all but guarantee she could not meet the requirements. She could not and she was fired.

The woman has filed a civil complaint against the company based on the mistreatment she experienced. Others in similar situations have been successful in holding their employers accountable for unlawful conduct on the job. Some employers try to hide the real reason that a person was harassed or unfairly fired. However, with legal support, employees can identify unlawful behavior and hold a company accountable for employment law violations.

Source: The Express-Times, “Woman alleges Mars fired her for being gay, pregnant,” Kathryn Brenzel, Feb. 20, 2013