Category: sexual orientation discrimination

The Founder of American Apparel Terminated for Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Dov Charney, a Canadian businessman who founded American Apparel at 20 years old, has been terminated from the company “for cause.” The board of directors for American Apparel, based in Los Angeles, voted to officially remove Charney from his position. American Apparel has been criticized in the past for over sexualized advertising campaigns and a culture of sexual harassment and misconduct. We had previously blogged about this here. Charney was removed for much of the same.

Charney’s replacement is former Warnaco executive, Paula Schneider. She will become the company’s next CEO. She hopes to maintain American Apparel’s image of American made products and improve the company’s overall image to both employees and customers.

As for Charney, he is at the center of several lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and sexual abuse towards female employees. He also has been accused of inappropriate behavior towards male employees. In 2011, a former employee alleged quid pro quo sexual harassment—she felt sex with Charney was a condition of her employment. The employee went as far as calling herself a “teenage sex slave” to him.

In 2012, a male manager alleged the former CEO of physical abuse including choking him and rubbing dirt in his face. After the violent encounter, Charney called him a “wannabe Jew” and a derogatory term for a homosexual.

Whether it was causation or merely correlation, the company’s stock fell significantly throughout 2014, and it suffered losses for three quarters.

Source: Daily Mail

The Latest Development From Apple Isn’t About Technology

Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple, is a native of Alabama who attended Auburn University. This week, Cook returned to his home state and made speech that called for higher tolerance and equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation or identity. He made allusions to Martin Luther King, showing that Alabama has been slow to acknowledge change and  rights throughout history; first the civil rights era and now the gay rights movement.

In an essay for Bloomberg Businessweek, Cook, who succeeded Steve Jobs as Apple CEO in 2011, announced that he is “proud to be gay.” Cook commented that he had been open at the company that he was gay and many of his colleagues were aware of his sexuality. He’s “never denied his sexuality, [but] he never publicly acknowledged it, either.”

Cook is now the highest-profile CEO known to be openly gay. “I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important…I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

Cook added that he was “lucky to work for a company that loves creativity and innovation and know it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences.” This article only adds more meaning to Cook’s call to action in Alabama earlier this week. Currently, Alabama state law does not consider sexual orientation a protected class, thus someone can be fired as a result of their sexuality.

In the state of California, firing someone for their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation is unlawful. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), and subsequently the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), protects employees and those associated with them from discrimination in the workplace. If you think you have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation, contact Aegis for a case evaluation.

Source: LA Times and BBC News

Image Source: Fortune 33

Failure to Hire—Boy Scouts of America’s Hiring Gaff

boy scoutsYasmine Cassini, a 29 year old woman, was excited when she was hired as the director for the Boys Scouts of America’s Denver area adventure center. As quickly as she was hired, however, the Boy Scouts rescinded their offer stating, “During the employment process, this individual brought it to our attention that she did not meet the requirements for employment.

The only thing that had changed between her hiring and her swift dismissal was one fact she shared with the organization: she is openly lesbian. “Discrimination is not okay and it’s something that is still occurring and it has to stop,” Cassini stated in a news interview.

This is not the first time the Boy Scouts have controversially dismissed personnel. In 2012, the organization dismissed a Cub Scout den leader, Jen Tyrell. Though she was a volunteer, the Boy Scouts fired her, allegedly, due to her sexual orientation.

Though in Colorado, employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, there are loopholes in the law that allow certain kinds of employment “selectivity.” For example, religious organizations may bar employment from an individual based on the aforementioned characteristics. The Boy Scouts, in particular, are a private organization that requires employees to be registered members. Since the Supreme Court ruled that Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to determine membership standards, they can prevent certain demographics from working for them (i.e. atheists or non-theists and homosexual adults).

The Boy Scouts revamped their policy of openly gay youth in the program, now allowing LGBT youth participants but will not budge on employing LGBT adults.

Source: Think Progress

The Pitfalls of Using Social Media to Hire—Or Not Hire—Prospective Employees

Carol Miaskoff of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”) recently spoke on a panel at a Federal Trade Commission Workshop regarding the use of social media to screen employment candidates.

Miaskoff warned employers to be cognizant of using social media because the company can uncover a variety of information that alludes to the applicants’ protected statuses (i.e. race, gender, or disability). In some cases, the decision not to hire someone based on their social media account can be interpreted as a violation of labor law, especially if a company decides not to hire someone once discovering their sexual orientation or that the prospective employee is pregnant, as an example.

Employers must not use prospective workers’ social media sporadically, but instead, should utilize it consistently with all applicants. Again, the employer may be at fault for using social media discriminatorily, but some may argue that employers can use social media for good cause.

Source: National Law Review

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Verizon Wireless and DirecTV Named in Mass Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

VXI Global Solutions is a call center provider for various companies, including Verizon and DirecTV. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the EEOC) filed a complaint against the call center this week for creating a hostile work environment and subjecting employees to unwanted sexual advances.

Beginning in 2009, various supervisors, including a male floor manager and a female assistant supervisor, subjected both male and female employees to pervasive sexual harassment. The former would approach female employees and proposition them for sex. He would grope and touch the female employees without provocation and make sexual explicit remarks.

The female assistant supervisor “made repeated advances toward male staff with foul descriptions of proposed sexual activity, unwanted lap dances and physical rubbing.” The supervisor would call male staff who rebuffed the behavior “gay.” Some who complained were retaliated against and fired.

The EEOC is seeking punitive damages for the plaintiffs as well as back pay to prevent further harassment and retaliation.

Source: LA Times