A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that sports agency, Independent Sports & Entertainment (ISE), discriminated and retaliated against an employee by terminating her employment because she was female. According to a report on Forbes.com, the lawsuit was filed by former employee Joyce Li. The eight-count complaint seeks monetary damages, including punitive damages, against ISE for allegedly subjecting Li to a work environment that was blatantly discriminatory.
Details of the Lawsuit
Li accuses the agency of excluding her from sports division retreats and paying her less than comparative male employees. She also accuses them of subjecting her to discriminatory work policies. For example, she pointed to an instance when Human Resources and upper management made an issue that she violated office dress code by wearing walking shorts to work. She said it was common for male employees to work in casual and beach attire, such as board shorts, flip-flops, sweats, T-shirts and workout gear. Men were not similarly reprimanded for wearing “unprofessional attire.”
ISE has responded by saying that the lawsuit is without merit and has vowed to defend itself against these claims. The company stated that this was an effort by Dan Fegan, a former employee who was fired. ISE has filed a lawsuit against Fegan to prevent him from poaching their clients. ISE has also responded by saying that this lawsuit by Li is an attempt by Fegan to continue his “smear campaign” against them because Li used to work for Fegan.
What Amounts to Gender Discrimination?
Sex or gender discrimination refers to treating individuals differently at the workplace specifically because an individual is a woman or a man. So, if you have been rejected for a job, terminated from employment or otherwise negatively affected at the workplace because of your gender, then, you may have suffered gender discrimination. There are several everyday examples of gender discrimination at the workplace.
For example, if you apply for a job for which you have the qualifications and the experience, but you didn’t get the job because the company is more comfortable dealing with men, that may amount to gender discrimination. If you are laid off from a job during cutbacks while other men with less seniority than you keep their jobs, that could also amount to sex or gender discrimination.
Such discrimination could also be reflected in the way a company pays its employees. For example if you learn that a male counterpart with similar training, qualifications and experience was hired at a higher rate of pay, that is likely gender discrimination. Similarly, if you don’t get health insurance because it is assumed that your husband will provide that for you through his job, that may also amount to discrimination based on gender.
If you have been the victim of the above, speaking with a discrimination attorney in Los Angeles may help. Our attorneys are standing by ready to assist anyone facing possible discrimination violations in California.
The Issue of Dress Codes
A female employee who is discriminated against because she wears pants or other gender-neutral clothing may be able to argue that she faced discrimination based on gender stereotypes or notions of appropriate dress for women. It should be noted that many employers have dress codes or otherwise expect their employees to wear clothes in keeping with the norms of the profession. For example, if an employer requires male employees to wear neckties or suits and female employees to wear dresses or skirts, it might not be found in violation of law because courts have typically allowed employers to require employees to wear suitable business attire.
However, California has passed a specific law making it illegal for employers to prevent an employee from wearing pants simply because of sex. An employer who requires employees to wear uniforms that are different for male and female workers is not engaging in discriminatory practices as long as the uniforms for both men and women are found to be “suitable attire.” It also goes without saying that employers cannot reprimand members of one sex for wearing clothing that is generally allowed for the other sex.
Steps You Can Take
There are several steps you can take if you feel like you are being discriminated against at work. First, make your employer aware that you feel you are being discriminated against or harassed. Let your employer know that you are taking the matter seriously. Ask for an investigation and corrective action. If you don’t get a response, then, consider contacting the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”) or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Keep a diary or journal of any incidents of discrimination or harassment. Record details such as the date, time, location, parties involved, witnesses and details of the improper speech or conduct. Review and know the company’s anti-discrimination policy. Review federal and state laws to learn and understand what your rights are.
Understanding Your Rights
Victims of gender discrimination can recover a number of remedies including back pay, compensatory damages (including for pain and suffering) and other actions that will make the individual “whole.” These remedies may also include other expenses incurred in the course of the legal action such as lawyers’ fees, court costs and expenses relating to expert witnesses.
In addition, an employer may be required to post notices to all employees addressing the violations and advising them of their right to be free of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Employers may also be required to take corrective and/or preventive actions with regard to what caused the discrimination and take steps to prevent it from happening again, in addition to discontinuing specific discriminatory practices brought to light by the case.
If you believe that you have been the victim of discrimination at work based on sex or gender, it is important that you speak with an experienced Los Angeles employment lawyer. There are time limits for pursuing your claims. So, it is crucial that you act quickly. An attorney can help you make important decisions along the way and help you seek and obtain any compensation you are owed for your losses.