Sexual Orientation Discrimination Suit against Jimmy Choo and the Trends behind Gender Discrimination in the Workplace

This week our firm reported an onslaught of discrimination based lawsuits.  One of these was against the famous shoe maker company Jimmy Choo.  The Complaint was filed by its former sales associate, John Ornelas, after he was allegedly harassed by his supervisor and wrongfully discharged from the Beverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive retail store.  Mr. Ornelas complained that he was harassed and discriminated against because he was gay and Hispanic.  As a 40 year old, Mr. Ornelas may also have a claim under age discrimination.  However, the main allegations describe a scenario where Mr. Ornelas was repeatedly mocked and insulted due to his homosexuality and Hispanic national origin.  Moreover, he alleged that although he complained several times to upper management nothing was done.  What brought the confrontation to a tipping point was when his supervisor, Nikki Raffasha, took one of his sales and reported it as one of hers.  After he complained, he was credited with the sale but then fired two days later.  This behavior is sure to show retaliation for his complaints, and we will monitor the case as it develops.

California has been at the forefront of granting LGBT rights.  This included anti-discrimination rights in housing, obtaining credit, labor, and especially employment.  Also, sexual orientation is considered a “protected class” under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).  See the following for FEHA‘s sexual harassment guidelines.  This places the burden to prove that there was no discrimination on the employer – a highly scrutiny measure.  Since the early 80s, California’s courts have interpreted the California Constitution and held that public entities may not discriminate against homosexuals.  This brought FEHA in conformity with federal law protecting sexual orientation in the workplace, and since the early 2000s FEHA has been broadened to protect gender identity.  Currently, there is a state-wide bill that would require single-person restrooms with gender-segregated signage (which comes with a lock) changed to a new sign posted as “All-Gender Restroom” which has already been implemented by some cities such as Cathedral City and West Hollywood.  Our Los Angeles based Employment Law Lawyers consistently discuss sexual or gender discrimination issues and remain at the forefront of this ever-evolving area of the law.  See our other blogs on sexual orientation discrimination here.

If you believe that you, or another employee, suffered an employment law matter related to sexual or gender discrimination in the workplace (or retaliation for reporting or complaining such conduct), prompt action to preserve your rights is vital.  Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.