CA court to hear rare reverse sexual orientation discrimination case
- The California Court of Appeals is allowing a reverse sexual orientation claim to go to trial, reports SHRM. Sharon Hardy, an employee at the House of Uhuru, claimed her supervisor at the drug treatment facility favored male and homosexual workers and clients, discriminating against her.
- The Superior Court of Los Angeles County initially decided in favor of Uhuru’s parent company, Watts Healthcare Corp., but the appeals court overturned the ruling. Hardy argued that her supervisor changed her work schedule so that it interfered with her getting certified as a drug treatment counselor, made her report to him before seeing clients, called her offensive nicknames and generally mistreated her in ways he didn’t treat men or homosexuals.
- Attorney Michelle Phillips, of Jackson Lewis in White Plains, N.Y., told SHRM that reverse sexual orientation discrimination claims are rare and that she had litigated only one such claim in 28 years. But Nathaniel Glasser, a Washington, D.C. attorney, said that where there are state and local antidiscrimination laws protecting sexual orientation, there’s also the possibility of reverse sexual orientation claims. He predicted more claims like Hardy’s in the future.
The appeals court noted that Hardy needed certification to keep her job, even though the parent company blamed her, not her work schedule, for failing her classes. By changing her work schedule, her supervisor’s motives appear biased.
Also, employers shouldn’t assume that a claim by someone from a protected class — in this case, a woman, against another protected class, homosexuals — has no merit. Although the case’s outcome is anybody’s guess, the appeals court believed the plaintiff had enough proof of reverse discrimination to go to trial.