Law Offices of Louis Spitters

Man claims he was subject to a wrongful termination for being gay

All employees have the right to go to work feeling comfortable and not needing to worry about being a victim of harassment. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and affected employees may choose to take a stand to put it to an end. A former employee for a California pawn shop claims that he was subjected to harassment and discrimination from his former employer prior to his wrongful termination.

After completing his probationary period, the plaintiff alleges he was told by his supervisor and coworker that they use different code words to identify different types of customers. According to his complaint, the words that were used were degrading and referenced gays and interracial couples who had children. The plaintiff claims that these codes upset him, but for fear of retaliation, he kept his concerns to himself.

On one occasion, he was asked by his supervisor and the other employee where he was from. When he indicated he was from Texas, they reportedly used a derogatory term inferring he was gay. The plaintiff allegedly walked away and headed to the back of the pawn shop. The coworker then allegedly said that he didn't like homosexuals, and the supervisor purportedly filed a nail gun into the wall after pointing it at the man. Thinking it was a real gun, the plaintiff began to have trouble breathing and went to a hospital emergency room for treatment.

Up until the time the plaintiff was fired, he claims that he was subjected to harassment due to a book he wrote that acknowledged he was gay. The company denies any wrongful termination and instead claims that the man was fired for trying to steal $113,000, though no charges were ever filed. The plaintiff filed a claim against the California pawn shop owner, manager and coworker and is asking for compensatory and punitive damages. Employees who are subjected to a hostile work environment are entitled to follow the chain of command to voice their complaints. If an agreeable solution is not reached, the worker may choose to file a complaint against his or her employer, seeking monetary damages and other relief based upon evidence of adverse employment actions.

Source:, "Lawsuit filed against pawn shop alleges harassment and discrimination", Jason Kotowski, Oct. 23, 2014

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