Workplace Retaliation Claims Rose in 2015 and LA Settles Yet Another Multi-Million Dollar Discrimination Case

A former City of Los Angeles gardener received a $3.8 million settlement after a jury found that he was subjected to disability and race discrimination. The gardener worked for the city for 20 years before being forced to retire in 2010 after experiencing harassment and disability for having a mental disability and for being white by his supervisors. This followed several notices that the gardener provided the city to no avail. The Complaint alleged that his Hispanic supervisor said that he hated white people, gave him bad assignments, was not promoted, and experienced other harassment. An interesting caveat here is that the gardener signed a severance agreement to release the city of all claims from his employment, but the judge found that the agreement only applied to claims resulting from his participation in the early retirement program.

Under the enforcement arm of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), California prohibits discriminating against employees with disabilities. An employer may only lay off a person due to his/her disability if the employer can demonstrate that: (i) The employee is unable to perform the essential functions of the job; and that no reasonable accommodation exists that would enable the person to perform the essential functions of the job, and (ii) The employee would create an imminent and substantial danger to himself/herself or a substantial danger to others by performing the job; and that no reasonable accommodation can be made to remove or reduce the danger. See more DFEH information on discrimination here as well as the following blogs for examples of age and disability discrimination.

Interestingly, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that the number of discrimination claims filed in 2015 was up and being led by race discrimination at 35% of the claims followed by disability discrimination. Alongside discrimination, the number of retaliation claims was up from the previous year and made up 44.5% of all the charges received by the EEOC. Sex discrimination and age discrimination followed at 29.5% and 22.5%, respectively. As our offices has seen, retaliation against discrimination claim whistleblowers is the most common charge, and we do not anticipate any slowing down in that area.

If you witnessed any potentially discriminatory activity at your work and/or retaliation (against anyone) for race, age, gender, nationality, disability, etc. or for complaining about such conduct, immediate action is vital. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.