As we mentioned earlier this week on our San Diego employment law blog, employees in California are protected from sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace. These are important protections that employees in only 15 other states are able to benefit from. Unfortunately, this does not mean that all employers ensure that workers are free from this type of harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Last month, an assistant coach for a water polo and swim team in Los Angeles County filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school district he had worked at after he was fired. The former coach claims that he was fired because he is gay.
The man is certainly hoping to get his job back, but he also hopes that his case will set an example for other employees who believe that they have been treated differently at work because of their sexual orientation. He claims that nothing will change unless workers make sure that they stand up for their rights that are supposed to be protected under California and federal laws.
According to the lawsuit, the man was asked to help coach a boys' polo and swim team in May 2011. But after he was hired by the school district, several pictures were sent anonymously to the district and the man was fired just a few months later. The photos had been found on the man's Facebook and MySpace pages.
The school district claims that the man was terminated because the photos were "obscene," and the school did not want "people like [him] close to children."
The man believes that his employee rights were violated and that his employer fired him because he is gay. One of the pictures that had been sent to the school showed the man surrounded by five men in drag at a Halloween party. The photo had been taken and posted online years before the man was even hired to help coach the school's swim team.
An attorney for the former assistant coach claims that the school district has no policies that address what workers can and cannot post on their personal social media sites, including pictures. According to the lawsuit, the school never even asked the man to remove the pictures from the Internet before firing him.
Source: ABC News, "School Fires Water Polo Coach Over 'Obscene' Photos; He Files Lawsuit," Susan Donaldson James, June 5, 2012