Discrimination is subtle. It’s never goes like: “We’re terminating your position because you can’t walk/have diabetes/have cancer/can’t hear….” No, no, no. Even stupid bosses usually aren’t that stupid.
It usually goes like this: “We’re letting you go.” That’s it. Smart employers don’t give you a reason, they just fire. But it gets interesting when someone gets fired two months after being diagnosed with cancer, or after breaking major bones on their hand, after telling their boss that they’re depressed, get a serious back injury, or after major surgery.
The law in California prohibits disability discrimination. But what happens when you are fired, demoted, or refused a promotion for reasons seemingly unrelated to your disability? Do you just suck it up and try to find a new job? Well, yes, you should try to find a new job; but no, you shouldn’t put your tail between your legs and let your boss do that, especially if you suspect you were fired because of your disability.
Were you fired because you’re ugly? Did your boss hire a beautiful replacement? Shouldn’t you be able to sue for that? The NYT makes the case:
[W]hy not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals?
The article has an interesting take on why ‘ugly’ people should be protected from discrimination in the workplace. It addresses the major problem, “what is ugly?”, in sheepish way.
For purposes of administering a law, we surely could agree on who is truly ugly, perhaps the worst-looking 1 or 2 percent of the population. The difficulties in classification are little greater than those faced in deciding who qualifies for protection on grounds of disabilities that limit the activities of daily life, as shown by conflicting decisions in numerous legal cases involving obesity.
Um. I’m pretty sure it would be harder than that. Beauty is extremely subjective. Not only that but picture the court proceedings. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, my client is ugly. Just look at her. She is simply not attractive. I’m here to prove that, not only is she terribly ugly, but her boss decided to fire her because of her looks, and proceeded to hire a attractive replacement. Please award my client $1,000,000.”
The absurdity is obvious.
Branigan Robertson is a California employment lawyer who exclusively represents employees in workplace disputes. He focuses his practice on sexual harassment, wage & hour, wrongful termination, and retaliation. Visit his website at BRobertsonLaw.com or call his office at 949.667.3025.
I know about a hundred people who have had relationships within their workplace. I’m sure you know a hundred more. Well, The Office had an entire episode about interoffice relationships. Joshua Drexler at the ‘That’s what she said’ blog (one of my favorites) has a great post on the subject.
After posting the above link I found another one worth mentioning. Apparently, the Vault does an annual ‘office romance’ survey. Employers and employees in will find this interesting. A few of the highlights are:
- 41% of employees in the general population claim to have never participated in an office romance.
- 40% of employees report “avoiding or curtailing a potential romance that they would have otherwise pursued specifically to avoid an office romance.”
- Among those who have engaged in an office romance, 26% have dated a subordinate, and 18% have dated their boss.
These percentages were worse than I expected, but not surprising. You may find it humorous to note that lawyers are particularly bad when it comes to romance in the office. As opposed to 41% in the general population, 36% of lawyers have “never participated in an office romance.” I bet that number changes when you look specifically at labor and employment attorneys. They would know better. But that’s just my hunch.
On January 13, 2011, the California Supreme Court decided Holmes v. Petrovich Development Co. In the case, plaintiff Gina Holmes sued her former employer for sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, violation of the right to privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, before ever initiating suit, she used her company-provided computer to send emails to her attorney regarding possible legal action against that very same company employing her.