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I Was Fired Because I Complained About Gender Discrimination. I Need A Lawyer!

| May 22, 2015 | Employment Discrimination, Gender Discrimination, Retaliation |

Best Ohio Gender Discrimination Attorney Answer: Can I be fired for complaining about gender discrimination at work? Can I recover fees for my attorney if I win my gender discrimination law suit? I’m the only female in my department and I’m being treated poorly at work – is that lawful?

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Cleaning up after people can be a thankless job. For confirmation, just ask the parent of a messy toddler, or a person employed as a custodian, janitor, or groundskeeper. Most people realize the value provided by a competent and quality custodian. For instance, pop culture frequently follows janitors, like the sarcastic humor and comedic relief provided by the janitor in the TV series “Scrubs”, or the saga of lovable misfortunes contained in the movie, Joe Dirt. Our overtime law attorneys previously blogged about common wage and overtime violations for cleaning workers at hotels. (See Can My Job Not Pay Me Overtime For Not Working Fast Enough?)

One custodian in Pennsylvania recently hit pay dirt after winning her case of wrongful termination. In Immordino v. Bucks Community College, a jury awarded plaintiff Felice Immordino $83,000 for her claim.  Immordino dutifully performed her job at a local community college as the only female custodian who also served as a union steward for over ten years.

In the order allowing Immordino’s claims to proceed to trial, the Court noted that Immordino had a history of discipline and had even been fired and reinstated to her position twice. Yet, it was her involvement in defense of a union member that prompted her problem with her employer. During a meeting regarding the impending discipline of a union member, a human resource representative at the school claimed that Immordino was acting “like a raving maniac” and shouting. Immordino was suspended for the allegation, but she filed a charge of gender discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging that other male union stewards were not disciplined for the same or similar conduct. (See Top Employment Law Attorney: Do Not File With The EEOC Without Doing This First).

How do I find the best attorney to sue my employer in Ohio? Call attorney Brian Spitz and the employment law lawyers today to find out what your gender discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims may be.

Immordino alleged that after the EEOC charge was filed, her employer began disciplining her out of retaliation for conduct that was overlooked when committed by other employees. In the order denying Defendant’s motion to prevent Immordino from making it to a jury, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania explained the laws and requirements for Immordino’s employment retaliation case:

Title VII precludes an employer from discriminating against an employee for making a charge that the employer has engaged in an unlawful employment practice, as defined under Title VII. 42 USC § 2000e-3(a). To set forth a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, a plaintiff must show that (1) she engaged in activity protected by Title VII; (2) the employer took an adverse employment action against her; and (3) there existed a causal connection between the participation in the protected activity and the adverse employment action. Moore v. City of Philadelphia, 461 F.3d 331, 340-341 (3d Cir. 2006).

If the plaintiff establishes a prim facie case of retaliation, the burden then shifts to the employer to advance a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for its conduct, as set forth in McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Moore, supra, at 342. If the employer is able to do so, the plaintiff can survive summary judgment only by producing some evidence from which a jury could reasonably conclude that the employer’s proffered explanation was false, and that retaliation was the actual reason for the adverse employment action. Moore, supra, citing Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 764 (3d Cir. 1994).

The Court went on to explain specifically why Immordino’s claims should proceed to trial:

Without entering into every detail of Immordino’s case, it is sufficient to state that she has provided evidence in support of a showing of suggestive timing in the context of a pattern of antagonism. On June 6, 2012, Immordino’s EEOC charge was filed. On June 18 and 19, 2012, Grisi entered an e-mail exchange with Tracy Donaldson of Human Relations which, while capable of other interpretations, could be read as showing that they decided to terminate Immordino as soon as possible.

In this exchange, Donaldson advised Grisi: “Get [Immordino’s] supervisor to demand the improvement [in Immordino’s behaviors] and use the disciplinary procedures that are available to us within the contract.” … Grisi then asked whether he could have Immordino tested for drugs and alcohol. (There is no evidence suggesting that drug or alcohol use has ever been an issue in Immordino’s employment). Donaldson informed Grisi that this would require “reasonable suspicion”, and advised: “I understand that Felice sleeps on her shift, in the classrooms; perhaps Terrie could observe, get another person (per the policy) to observe and gauge her reaction when woken up. If she appeared to two observers [to] be under the influence, that’d qualify as `reasonable suspicion.’“

Interpreting these facts in the light most favorable to Immordino, as a judge must in considering a motion for summary judgment, it could be considered suggestive timing that Immordino was subjected to discipline for being outside of her work station on June 20, 2012, two days after the foregoing e-mail exchange. … She was disciplined thereafter on July 10, August 7, August 21, and December 12, 2012.

Ultimately, the jury found in favor of Immordino on her claim of retaliation and awarded her $83,000. Immordino’s attorneys then filed a motion to recover their attorney’s fees in the amount of $172,005.05. Defendants challenged the motion, and after review the Court granted the award of attorney’s fees, but reduced the amount to $135,880.05, making the total award, $218,880.05.

If you have filed an EEOC charge, or opposed or complained about unlawful discrimination or harassment, the best thing to do is contact an attorney for advice. Although Immordino filed suit in Pennsylvania, employees in the State of Ohio are protected under both state and federal laws. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits gender discrimination, and retaliation in all fifty states. Similarly, Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02 states that it is unlawful for a qualified employer to “discharge without just cause, to refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against that person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment” based on gender or retaliation.

If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your gender or sex, then call the right attorney. It is never appropriate to discriminate against female employees. Discrimination against women includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, denied a promotion, and denied wages or not receiving equal pay. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040, you will meet with an attorney from The Spitz Law Firm to discuss wrongful discrimination claims and help you determine the best way to pursue your gender/sex discrimination claims.

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The materials available at the top of this page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to gender discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.