Employment Discrimination Q & A
The following are questions and answers regarding employment law. All questions are based on actual cases which were considered or litigated by Law Offices of David H. Greenberg and its attorneys.
Q: I'm a straight male, but people sometimes consider me a "pretty boy". Anyway, I was hired by an entertainment company in a department where the supervisor and most of the employees are gay. They keep making comments about "doing me", compliment me on my "tight butt", invite me out on dates, and one of the guys named Cookie keeps saying, "you ain't had nookie until you've had Cookie". Is this sexual harassment?
B.M., West Los Angeles
A: It sure is. Sexual harassment can be a male to a female, a female to a male, and a male to a male and a female to a female, or any other combination you can think of. You have the same legal rights as a woman being harassed in the work place. If there is a written company policy on reporting sexual harassment, follow the company policy. If there is no policy, report this in writing to your supervisor (even if he's a perpetrator), his supervisor and the head of human resources.
Q: I'm the Chief Financial Officer of a company and a woman. I've been dating a subordinate (male) who's now goofing off. Can I fire him, or what should I do?
A: If you fire him, expect a lawsuit for sexual harassment and discrimination. What's good for the goose is good for the gander! First, break off the relationship. If he's goofing off, start "papering" his personnel file with detailed written warnings of poor job performance. Give him progressive discipline. Tell the C.E.O. what happened. (Always bring bad news to your boss instead of letting them find out on their own.) When it's time to let the subordinate go, have an attorney prepare a financially attractive termination and release package, and remember, its always a problem sacking a person you've been sacking.
Q: You won't believe this but it's true. I had to work late one evening with my boss. He keeps a liquor cabinet in his office and broke open a bottle of wine. He got me drunk and had sex with me on his office floor. I was too embarrassed to report it, and now he is about to fire me because he feels too guilty to even talk to me. How can I prove it happened and what can I do about it?
S.C., Beverly Hills
A: Assuming you weren't too drunk to know exactly where on the floor the dastardly deed was done, and assuming there is carpet on the floor, we may have a solution (pun intended). When he's out of the office, take some fiber samples from the spot on the carpet where you think there may be some semen. Have it analyzed at a lab. If the lab can determine the DNA, he would have a hard time explaining how his semen got on his rug if your story were not true. You should then be able to work out a satisfactory termination package.
Q: My boss is not computer literate. He heard that there is pornography on the internet. He now makes me his purveyor of internet smut, and when I try to stop it he threatens to fire me or say it was my idea.
A.D., West Los Angeles
A: If it was your idea to provide internet-porn to your boss, why didn't he fire you? First, down-load his computer your computer files so he can't have them erased or deleted. Next, report this entire matter to his boss in person and in writing. Your boss will have a difficult time explaining how he allowed you to put internet-porn on his computer, without his knowledge and approval, and then never fired you or documented your personnel file.
Q: Part of my job entails entertaining out of town customers with my boss when they come to town. We're talking entertainment and no more! I'm a strawberry blonde with a gorgeous figure and face. Recently I've been hearing rumors that my boss is telling customers that he's sleeping with me, which is definitely not true. What can I do?
S.B., Woodland Hills
A: How reliable is the source of the rumor? Maybe that person made up the story? Have you heard the rumor from more than one person? After you confirm that your boss is spreading the rumor, confront him. That should get it to stop. Keep detailed notes as to who told you, when and what they said. If you think your boss is vindictive and might fire you in retaliation, report this to his boss so you can prove retaliation if you are fired. This is not only juvenile behavior, it is sexual harassment and slander. You could sue his ass for saying he's getting yours.
Q: I was hired by a fast food place three weeks ago. My boss yelled at me for being slow and coming in late. He then fired me for arguing with him. I'm nineteen years old and Hispanic. Can I sue?
A: Get a life! I'd fire you too! You were only on the job three weeks and you were slow, late and argumentative. Why do you think you can sue them, just because you're Hispanic? You say they fired you for arguing. As long as they didn't fire you because you're Hispanic they haven't broken the law. How would you prove your race was what motivated them. Weren't you Hispanic when they hired you three weeks before? If they hired you knowing you were Hispanic, how could you prove they fired you because you're Hispanic? My advice is to get another job, work faster, show up on time and don't argue with the boss.
Q: I recently got laid off. I'm a fifty-five year old female Hispanic and I have high blood pressure. By the way, I've worked for the company for 11 years. Can they legally lay me off?
C.D., Santa Monica
A: It's not the what but the why! Almost everyone fits into some protected category. Motive is the question and the burden of proof is on you. You cannot be laid off because you are fifty-five or a female or Hispanic or have high blood pressure. You can be laid off even though you are fifty-five or a female or Hispanic or have high blood pressure. See the difference? Did the company lay off other people and if so did they all fit a particular category? The fact that you worked there eleven years, at least part of which time you were all of those things would tend to show they did not lay you off for an illegal reason.
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