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Furniture Chain Sued By Woman Claiming Lesbian Discrimination

By Brian Chase on January 24, 2013 - No comments

A woman is suing America’s largest furniture retailer, Ashley Furniture, over a claim that she was fired because she is a lesbian, according to a report by Huffington Post.  The woman claims that she was asked about her religious views and marital status during the interview process, and that one director forced her to pray with her about her sexual preference.wrongful termination lawsuit

The victim is a lesbian who is married to another woman.  She was reported subjected to derogatory language during her employment, including the terms “lesbo” and “fag,” and also heard bosses or co-workers use racially-charged language.

The employee claims that she was fired after the director who prayed with her spotted a bumper sticker on her car that supported the Human Rights Campaign. Ashley Furniture has a history of supporting conservative and religious movements that define traditional marriage as the proper choice.

Can A Worker Sue for Discrimination?

Under federal law, and state law in California, employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers for gender, which has been held to include sexual identification.  Employers are also barred from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religious views, or other arbitrary factors.

This means that an employer cannot make hiring or firing decisions or promotion choices based on arbitrary standards or show favor to one group over another.  Furthermore, employees are not to be subjected to rude or upsetting language about these identifying factors while at work, as this creates a climate of fear and distrust in the workplace.

If a worker can show that he or she has experienced such discrimination, the employee may be entitled to collect damages from the employer including lost wages or lost salary increases, punitive damages, and other forms of compensation.

How Do I Prove Discrimination?

The difficult aspect of an employment discrimination case is often proving that the employee was treated unfairly due to arbitrary standards rather than poor performance or some other problem.  For example, an employer may state that an employee was fired not because of sexual preference but because his or her performance on the job did not meet company standards.  Unless the victim has some type of proof that discrimination took place, it is difficult to make a case.

However, the benefit of the doubt often goes to the employee in such situations.  Arbitrators and judges know that employers are not likely to admit discrimination, so they often look for a pattern of such behavior to establish the truth.  If several people have been fired over arbitrary matters, this may support the victim’s case even if the employer denies that the employees are fired for those reasons.

It is also possible that the victim is not the only one suffering discrimination.  If more than one employee can be found who is willing to talk about his or her experiences with the company, it is likely that the victim will have a good chance of proving discrimination.

An employment lawyer can assist victims of employment discrimination and wrongful termination and help them recover damages in these cases.

Posted in: Employment Law

About the Author: Brian Chase

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