Category: sexual orientation discrimination

Tyler Perry’s Tyler Perry Getting Sued

Last year, news broke that famed film maker Tyler Perry was embroiled in a frightening stalker situation. Perry sued his alleged stalker for $125,000, outlining assault and emotional distress claims. Now the said stalker is firing back.

Male model, Joshua Sole, began working for Tyler Perry Studios in or about July last year. According to Perry in a November 7, 2014 Facebook post, Sole was “mentally disturbed” and obsessive over meeting Perry. Perry made these remarks when, three months into Sole’s employment, Sole was arrested for barricading himself in the mogul’s office and refusing to come out until Perry met with him.

Now Sole is asserting his innocence and is even taking further to allege sexual harassment on the part of Perry’s studio staff. In a federal lawsuit, Sole claims that his supervisor, Brett Hendrix, subjected him to constant harassment. As per the suit, Hendrix allegedly attempted to inappropriately touch Sole, asked for sex in exchange for drugs, engaged in sexting, requested sex, and called him inappropriate names.

Sole’s lawsuit is seeking $5 million in damages for the hostile work environment that caused embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional health damage. The model is also seeking libel damages for Perry’s online comment regarding his mental health.

Source: Project Q

Forever 21 Sued by Transgender Employee

Alexia Daskalakis began working for a Forever 21 store in New York in 2011 as a sales associate…and a man. Three year’s into Alexia’s tenure, she began her physical transition from male to female, and thus the harassment and discrimination began.

Though she had identified as female previously, in January 2014, Alexia began presenting herself in a more traditionally feminine way—wearing makeup, dressing more womanly. At this point in time, Alexia has also been promoted to the role of visual merchandiser and was responsible for setting up window displays.

Alexia had begun taking hormone pills for her physical transition in August 2014. Supervisors and co-workers, male and female alike, immediately began harassing Alexia, subjugating her gender identity. One manager called her a “hot mess” and told her that she looked “offensive,” asserting “in my eyes and the in the company’s eyes, you’re still a male.”

Alexia was sent home from a shift one day for not abiding by male dress code and following the female dress code. The manager who sent her home that day, also told her, “you used to be a hard worker when you were a guy, but not anymore.” Alexia was fired the following January.

The lawsuit alleges that the company discriminated against Alexia based on gender identity, a protected class is becoming more and more indoctrinated into various anti-discrimination laws and labor codes.  Filed last month, this lawsuit comes in the wake of a different lawsuit against Saks Fifth Avenue for similar claims. The Saks suit settled only a few weeks before Alexia’s was filed

Source: Fortune Magazine

IN a Lot of Trouble–Indiana’s Controversial New Law

Indianapolis Star
Every outlet of media has been ablaze talking about Indiana’s controversial new “Religious Freedom” law. Last week, Governor Mike Pence proudly stated, “Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for very Hoosier of every faith.” In short, the law would allow private businesses and individuals to refuse service or refuse to do business with individuals if they for some reason violated the vendor’s religious beliefs.

Critics of the law slammed the state and its governor for codifying discrimination. The most obvious example of the new law is that businesses can now legally refuse to serve gay and lesbian couples in the name of religious freedom. The ink from his signature wasn’t even dry before the protest began against Gov. Pence and the new law.

First came the athletes. The NCAA Final Four basketball game is to be held in Indianapolis, the organization’s headquarters, and the association quickly condemned the law. The NCAA stated they will do all they can to make sure visitors attending the final game would not be negatively impacted by the measure. Former and current professional athletes are calling for the removal of the NCAA and other sports events from states who have these kinds of laws on the books. Professional sports organizations throughout Indiana, including the NBA and NASCAR, have assured fans that they will continue to operate on “established principles of inclusion and respect.”

Then came the celebrities of a non-sports culture. Comedian Ellen DeGeneres, normally light and comical, tweeted a very serious reflection, “For anyone who is refused service…you deserve better. Acceptance and progress take time. But they always arrive.” Actor Ashton Kutcher asked the state via social media, “Indiana are you going to allow Christian establishments to ban Jews from coming in?”

Then came the businesses and corporations. Front man for Apple, Tim Cook, has slammed the law, stating the company is “deeply disappointed in Indiana’s new law” and asking Arkansas government to veto a similar measure in their state. Nine corporate leaders of some of the state’s largest employers sent a letter to Indiana leaders stating they are “deeply concerned about the impact it is having on our employees and on the reputation of our state.” Yelp, PayPal, and Starbucks also opposed the new law in public statements.

Then came the politicians. Governors from other states and mayors of large cities across the country have taken surprisingly strong stances against their colleague. Connecticut Governor, Dannel Malloy, signed an executive order banning state government funded travel to Indiana. Malloy asserted that his state was “sending a message that discrimination won’t be tolerated.” Mayors of Seattle and San Francisco also boycotted Indiana.

So what does this mean for employment discrimination laws in Indiana and elsewhere in the country? As employment law stands in the state, discrimination is prohibited for many of the same reasons they are in California—except for one glaring difference. California protects sexual orientation, gender identity, and perceived orientation and identity of employees.

The state’s largest newspaper, the Indianapolis Star, urged the government to “FIX THIS NOW” on the front page of the paper. The Star called for amendments to the new law but also for the addition of new anti-discrimination laws to cover sexual orientation and gender identity. The call to action could include potential amendments to current employment law in the state.

For now, we have to wait to see how Governor Pence will react—will he repeal or try to amend what many see as an already broken law? Stay tuned.

All the Days of our West Hollywood Lives

This is a tale of soap operatic proportions. Let’s meet the characters of this story, in fair West Hollywood where we set our scene.

First, there is Ian Owens, a deputy to a city council man of West Hollywood. He is accused of bugging a co-worker’s office to prove her of wrongdoing.

Enter the co-worker, Fran Soloman, who is the deputy to another councilman that works with Owens’s boss. She is accused of soliciting unethical campaign contributions for her boss from wealthy developers.

Now comes the two bosses at the heart of the matter. Owens’s boss was Councilman John Duran. He is accused of having a sexual encounter with Owens and then hiring him after they met on Grindr, a dating app for homosexual men. Afterwards, Duran purportedly continued his attempts at a sexual relationship with Owens, despite Owens’s consistent rebuffs.

Soloman’s boss was Councilman John Heilman. Heilman isn’t directly accused of everything but is swept up in this dramatic tale.

So here’s how the story unfolds. Owens, suspecting Soloman was up to no good, reported it to his boss, Duran. Duran refused to entertain the idea because he was upset at Owens for not engaging in a relationship with him. So Owens took matters into his own hands and became what he calls the “whistle blower.” He placed surveillance bugs in Soloman’s office, though Owens’s is now claiming he just heard her through the thin walls. Regardless, after listening to these conversations one way or another, Owens created a spreadsheet of quotes from Soloman’s phone conversations in her office. That spreadsheet was then emailed to city residents and the city’s resident bloggers.

Owens had emailed out the spreadsheet under an alias, but metadata from the document revealed Owens was the creator. He has since been suspended, on paid administrative leave while the city investigates the allegations from all sources. His attorney is claiming that he is being wrongly punished because he was blowing the whistle on Soloman’s wrongdoings.

Owens’s attorney is demanding that his client be restored to his position, outlining the whistleblowing status of his client as well as the sexual encounters between Owens and Duran.

We’ll keep you updated on the every growing drama that is the West Hollywood City Council.

Source: Los Angeles Times

The Most Bizarre Employment News Stories of 2014

On the last day of the year, we thought it would be fun to look back throughout 2014 and reflect on the most interesting, bizarre employment new stories we’ve heard. While we have seen significant changes to the landscape in terms of the employment law, it has not halted a steady stream of odd lawsuits. So what’s in our Top 5?

5. Tyra Banks and America’s Next Top Model Sued for Cheating Real WinnerCycle 14 of “America’s Next Model” featured former contestants from previous cycles competing for a modeling contract prize. Oddly, before the finale was aired, Tyra Banks informed audiences that the finale had to be re-filmed after production wrapped since one of the final three contestants, Angelea Preston, had been disqualified.

Preston filed a lawsuit stating that she was the real winner of Cycle 14 and therefore should be entitled to the prize. She alleges that the reason she was disqualified held no merit and anything suspect was reported before the cycle’s filming began. Preston was allegedly terminated from the show for her previous experience as an escort. She is demanding $3 million.

4. “My Supervisor Pushed Me Down the Stairs”-Santa Fe County Clerk employee Jayla Ortiz loved her job as a recording clerk. However, when her supervisor learned she was gay, things changed. One day, in a heated argument at the top of a staircase, Ortiz alleges that her supervisor, Esther Artino, pushed her and sent her toppling down the stairs.

Ortiz was found at the bottom of the steps pooled in her own blood. She filed a discrimination lawsuit based on sexual orientation. Ortiz is also accusing negligence since Artino purportedly walked away from Ortiz at the bottom of the stairs and left her.

We often hear about altercations in the workplace, but rarely as violent as this one.

3. How Did the NFL Get Away with Paying Their Cheerleaders Pennies?-An Oakland Raiders cheerleader was the face that launched multiple lawsuits. Lacy, a former Raiderette, sued on the behalf of cheerleaders similarly situated with the team, for minimum wage violations. The cheerleaders were being paid per game, never paid for endless hours of practices, and fined for various appearance infractions, like having the wrong color hair and wearing the wrong uniform.

One would think in such a high profile industry such as professional athletics, this practice would be caught before now. Evidently not.

Lacy’s lawsuit inspired similar suits across the country. Cheerleaders from the Jets, Bengals, and Bills followed suit.

2. Taking No Shave November Too Seriously– A female storeroom employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company for failing to prevent a manager from constantly and pervasively harassing her. It started off as a traditional case of sexual harassment; the manager would attempt to put his arm around the female subordinate or even try to kiss her.

After she rebuffed him several times, the manager ultimately locked them together into his office and forced a pair of tweezers in her hand. He then demanded her to pluck an ingrown hair from his chin. After that, he tried to kiss her.

The employee was eventually terminated for performance. If it wasn’t for the chin hair, this might be a fairly standard case, but that fact makes it pretty bizarre.

1. The Obvious Answer to a Dispute at Work is…Poison?!– The most bizarre story of 2014 had to be the alleged poisoning of a medical worker after a workplace fight.

A medical assistant was hired by a medical staffing company at an office where said assistant and a permanent employee were not getting along. One day their disagreements escalated to a verbal altercation. After the altercation, the medical assistant poisoned her co-worker’s water bottle with carbolic acid. The permanent employee sustained burns on her tongue and mouth.

The permanent employee sued both the medical assistant and the staffing agency, claiming that the agency had neglected its duties of training the latter in better conflict resolution than poison. The court found the agency not liable because the medical assistant’s actions were not within a reasonable scope of the employment. The individual medical assistant, though, can be personally liable.

Those are just five stories that proved news worthy in 2014. We all eagerly await what 2015 has in store!