Best Gender Discrimination Attorney and LGBT Employment Rights Lawyer Answer: Can I file a lawsuit if I feel that my employer is discriminating against me based on my gender? Can my manager discriminate against me because I am not conforming to what he thinks are traditional gender stereotypes? Do gender discrimination laws protection from discrimination against LGBT employees?
As regular readers of our employment lawyers’ blog know, the employment discrimination attorneys at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, are committed to fighting hard every day for men and women employees who have been discriminated against by their employers because of on their gender in the workplace. (Do I Have A Claim For Gender Discrimination?; I Was Fired For Reporting Gender Discrimination!; I Was Denied A Job Because I’m A Woman!; and Lawyer: Do I Have A Gender Discrimination Claim If I Quit?). In addition, our employment discrimination lawyers constantly seeking to protect the rights of those employees in the LGBT community who are discriminated against by managers and supervisors in the workplace. (See Can My Church Refuse To Hire Gay Cooks?; Is It Still Legal To Discriminate Against LGBTs?; LGBT Employment Rights: Can I Be Fired For Dressing Too Masculine?; and Can I Be Fired For Marrying A Person Of The Same Sex? I Need The Top Ohio Attorney To Sue My Employer For Wrongful Termination!).
While Ohio and many other states continue to fall behind in enacting statutory protections for LGBT individuals, some employees in the LGBT community have had luck getting protection under Ohio and federal gender discrimination laws by arguing that the discrimination against them was based on their non-conformance to traditional gender stereotypes.
Recently, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan denied an employer’s motion for summary judgment against an LGBT employee who claimed that she was discriminated against based on her alleged non-conformance with traditional gender stereotypes. In Reed v. South Bend Nights, Inc., the Court rejected the employer’s attempt to dismiss the employee’s wrongful termination and employment discrimination claims, finding that the employee set forth sufficient evidence for her claims to continue to trial.
In her employment discrimination and wrongful termination complaint, Reed set forth that her sexual orientation is lesbian and she is married to a female. She also claimed she “is female and does not conform to traditional gender stereotypes, in terms of her sexual orientation, mannerisms, and behavior.” Reed began working for the company in the housekeeping department on or about September 26, 2013, and her supervisor at the time was Chelsea Sparks.
Shortly after beginning her employment, Reed left work due to a family emergency and before doing so, punched out on the employee time clock, and punched back in upon returning later that same day. Sparks was not working on the day when Reed left, and Reed claimed that she received permission to leave. On a different occasion, Reed claimed that a female employee was showing co-workers photos from a bachelorette party with male strippers. Upon seeing the photos, Reed explained she didn’t “do men” and stated that she had “a bad ass bitch at the crib.” Reed stated upon hearing this, Sparks “reacted…with a disapproving face.”
Shortly after these two incidents, Sparks notified Reed that she was firing her for leaving work without permission and because Reed didn’t “fit as part of [the] team.” Reed also claimed that Sparks stated she didn’t “feel comfortable with Reed’s sexuality.”
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers from discriminating against any individual… because of such individual’s race, color sex, or national origin. Sexual orientation is not a protected class under Title VII; however, a claim for discrimination based on gender stereotypes can amount to a claim of sex discrimination under Title VII. In examining the similarities between a sexual orientation and gender stereotype case, the Court held:
The Sixth Circuit has acknowledged a “curious distinction” between claims of sexual-orientation discrimination and gender-stereotyping discrimination. In Vickers, the plaintiff argued that harassment by co-workers based on his sexual orientation amounted to gender-stereotyping discrimination because “in the eyes of his co-workers, his sexual practices… did not conform to the traditionally masculine role.” The Sixth Circuit rejected this claim, noting that a plaintiff cannot “bootstrap protection for sexual orientation into Title VII” under the guise of a sex-stereotyping claim. Because the plaintiff “failed to allege that he did not conform to traditional gender stereotypes in any observable way at work,” he had failed to allege a claim of gender-stereotyping. A Title VII claim for discrimination based on gender stereotypes thus requires a showing of discrimination based on gender non-conforming behavior “observed at work or affecting…job performance” such as one’s “appearance or mannerisms on the job.”
In Reed, the Court found that the employee put forth sufficient evidence in support of her allegations that she was discriminated against because she did not conform to traditional gender stereotypes in terms of her appearance, behavior, or mannerisms at work. Specifically, the Court found evidence in the record supporting this conclusion including: Ms. Sparks told a witness that the employee “was crazy and acted too manly” and Ms. Sparks “didn’t want to work with” employee. In addition, Ms. Sparks testified at her deposition that employee “dressed more like a male than a female.” According to Ms. Sparks, employee dressed differently from other employees in the housekeeping department because she wore “khaki pants sagging a little with her belt tucked in” while other housekeepers wore scrub pants and a blue shirt. She also stated that employee’s “demeanor” was a “little more mannish.” Although Ms. Sparks stated that employee’s demeanor did not factor into her decision to terminate her, she also testified that she terminated employee because she wasn’t a good fit due to “the way she carried herself and the way she spoke and she was loud in the laundry room. She used profanity, a lot of profanity, and she was loud.” Based on this evidence, genuine issues of material fact remained that precluded summary judgment.
Next, the Court found that questions of fact remained as to the remaining elements of Reed’s claim, including whether Sparks and the company had a legitimate business reason to terminate her employment. Based on these findings, the employer’s motion was denied.
In the end, we believe as employment discrimination lawyers that this decision supports our ongoing fight to judge employees on their skills, productivity, and ability, and not on preconceived notions of sexual orientation, race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, or disability.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have was wrongfully fired or terminated today;” or “I have been discriminated against because I am …” gay, a lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered; or even think that you might need an employment law lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. Your employment rights are constantly changing and the best way to find out if you can sue your boss, manager, supervisor or employer for discrimination, harassment, or wrongful termination is to call Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and talk to its attorneys, who are experienced and dedicated to protecting the rights of employees just like you.
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