How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask LawTalk Your Own Question

LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 27888
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
Type Your California Employment Law Question Here...
LawTalk is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hello, I think I was wrongfully terminated. I worked for

Customer Question

Hello,
I think I was wrongfully terminated. I worked for AMC Theaters for almost six years. I was promoted to a supervisor last year. I was terminated last week for "violation of policy". Before my termination I was placed on suspension and was asked questions (by the corporate office) about a trip I had just returned from with a crew member. There is a nonfraternization policy that states supervisors may not engage in activities, date, attend parties, etc with any associates they supervise. Then the policy states the examples and all examples include manager level positions only. It is company practice and is the norm that supervisors socialize with crew members. There are hundreds of pictures on social media confirming this and supervisors and crew members that are best friends come to the theater together. Management and crew know of these friendships because it is not hidden. There are examples of even a General Manager dating a Manager and when it was reported to Corporate, they transferred the General Manager to another theater. I have not been able to get the specific policy that I violated from Corporate Office. I emailed HR and received an email stating I violated policy. I plan on emailing again tomorrow and asking for the specific violation. I can't help but think that my termination has something to do with me being gay. What do you think about this situation and what would you advise for me to do? I have been a dedicated and loyal employee who works hard and I have managers that value my work ethic and think the termination is "insane". I am stressed and frustrated that I now must put that I have been fired from a job. I started working for AMC when I was 16 and so this is the only job that I have had. Thank You.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Good afternoon Eric,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

I've been a licensed CA attorney for nearly 3 decades, and for two of those, I have handled employment discrimination law and litigated cases against employers. Your description of the situation seems to indicate that there may be discrimination going on based on your sexual orientation. If that is true--then your remedy is to file a formal complaint of discrimination.

CA law prohibits harassment and discrimination in the workplace and if this is happening to you, you do have a legal remedy.

Workplace harassment/discrimination is any unwelcome or unwanted conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or an aversion toward another person on the basis of any characteristic protected by law, which includes an individual's race, color, gender, ethnic or national origin, age, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal characteristic protected by law. A conduct is considered unwelcome if the employee did not solicit, instigate or provoke it, and the employee regards XXXXX XXXXX as undesirable or offensive.


In CA you have two possible avenues of approach to dealing with discrimination. If your goal is to ultimately sue in Federal Court, then you will file a complaint with the EEOC, and if you want to be in the CA Superior Court---local to your county---then you will file with the DFEH and, if you want to, with the EEOC as well.
You must file a formal complaint of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act, and within one year for the CA DFEH.


You may file a formal complaint with the CA Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleging discrimination based on your sexual orientation.

To do this you must first make an appointment with the Department to be interviewed, either over the phone or at a local DFEH office. You may call the DFEH at(NNN) NNN-NNNN or apply on line by using the Department’s "Online Appointment System." The system will guide you through questions to determine whether an appointment is right for you.

Alternatively, you may file a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If your company has 15 or more employees
(the DFEH only requires that there be 5 or more employees), they are prohibited from discriminating against you. To file a complaint with the EEOC, contact the nearest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office. To be automatically connected with the nearest office, call(NNN) NNN-NNNN EEOC website: www.eeoc.gov

Federal law specifically prohibits discrimination, based upon the Ethnicity, Color, Religion, National Origin, Age, Sex and Disability of an individual, with regard to hiring, promotion and firing.


After you file the complaint, your employer will be prohibited from any retaliatory action against you. The EEOC will investigate your claim, and 180 days after the filing of the complaint you may ask for a "right to sue letter". The EEOC will issue you the letter which gives you the right to institute a private civil action against your employer and seek monetary damages.


You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

I wish you the best in your future,

Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Doug,


Wouldn't an attempt to get the specific reason or the specific "violation of policy" be helpful before I file a complaint with the EEOC? Also I was thinking that I should ask Corporate HR what my reference check will be at this time. I am applying for several jobs and I would like to know what type of reference or information they will tell a prospective employer.


Once I file a complaint with EEOC will my reference be jeopradized?


One thought I have is should I first attempt to call Corporate HR and let them know my concerns about my reference and try to negotiate a reference that doesn't reflect a termination? What would you recommend?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Hi Eric,

The specific violation is only going to help the company. I assure you they are not going to say that you are being let go because you happen to be gay. What you describe is disparate treatment as between other employees who are straight, and you. That technically does not require an explanation of any rule you are alleged to have violated.

And, the complaint process will take a few weeks at minimum before the employer is ever notified---so it isn't like if you begin the process Monday, they will know on Tuesday.

Additionally, I will be surprised if they share with you anything like what rule you broke---you are already terminated, The company attorney have likely already told them don't get into discussions like this with terminated employees.

Feel free to try and negotiate a reference---it can't hurt you---but don’t expect miracles. What do you have to offer them in exchange for a reference that omits that you were terminated for violation of company policy?-----Probably not much. But feel free to ask. It can't hurt you.

You can file your complaints at any time within 300 days with the EEOC and a year with the DFEH.

It is generally my preference to file at a minimum with the DFEH, so you can sue the employer in CA State court rather than hassle with federal court.

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

Please remember to rate my service to you when our communication is completed.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Your answers and information are very helpful.


Sounds like filling a complaint with the two agencies you mentioned will determine if my different treatment is because I am gay and that it makes sense to make this my first course of action. You said that by me filing a complaint that they can not retaliate. Does this mean that even if it's determined that my treatment was not discriminatory that they can not retaliate? Can they tell my future reference checks that I filed a complaint during or after it's complete no matter the outcome?


 

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Hi Chris,


You asked: Does this mean that even if it's determined that my treatment was not discriminatory that they can not retaliate? Yes, absolutely, that is exactly what it means. Regardless of the outcome of the complaint---the employer is prohibited from any form of retaliation.

Disclosing the fact that you filed a complaint, in and of itself, would constitute retaliation as well---because it would show the intent to harm you for having filed the complaint in the first place. If they disclose it in a reference---they have a real problem, and you have a new complaint and lawsuit.


Thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated.Please keep in mind that until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be credited with helping you.

Thanks again.

Have a great day,

Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Doug,


One last question about negotiating a reference. Would it be appropriate for me to discuss with corporate HR my concerns about being treated differently and that I would be open to negotiating a reference for my signing away my right to sue? I realize I seem to have many questions but I just want to make sure I do the right thing, handle this most appropriately and not do anything that I will regret.


I will most definitely rate your service when finished. You have been informative and patient.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Good afternoon Chris,

You wrote: Would it be appropriate for me to discuss with corporate HR my concerns about being treated differently and that I would be open to negotiating a reference for my signing away my right to sue? Chris, all you will accomplish by doing that will be to put them into full pre-litigation mode. Theta would almost certainly backfire---a really bad idea.

By the time that you get the right to sue letter, you will want to have a local employment discrimination attorney representing you.

I wish you success,


Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Will I only get the right to sue letter if the investigations from the agencies determine it was discrimination? I don't have the funds to hire an attorney so that is why I am asking.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Chris,

You can get the right to sue letter anytime you want. It is not necessary that the DFEH make a determination which is on your side. If you have a good case, you can get an attorney on a contingency basis---only paying a fee when you win...

I have handled cases like yours in CA, first litigating a case like yours to a successful conclusion nearly 15 year ago.

There are lawyers out there who will help you.

Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Wouldn't a determination from DFEH saying they were on my side be a stronger reason for an attorney to assist me? Do you recommend filing a complaint first with DFEH and waiting for their outcome? Which steps would you take if you were me, knowing what you know about this law?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Chris,

Of course a DFEH/EEOC finding in your favor would help you find a lawyer. That goes without saying.

I would file with DFEH, now. After you do that--start looking for an attorney---and let them decide what to do next in terms of when to ask for the right to sue letter---and then filing suit.

Doug

LawTalk, Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 27888
Experience: I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
LawTalk and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your positive rating of my service, Chris. It has been my pleasure to assist you and I hope than you will ask for me on JustAnswer should a future need ever arise.

Please feel free to bookmark the following link so you can request me to answer any future legal questions you may have:
http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-lawtalk/

Thanks again.

Doug

When you receive your Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, please do rate me highly (9-10) there as well. It benefits my ability to assist you and other customers, and would be tremendously appreciated.

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    933
    I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/LawTalk/2012-6-6_17379_LawTalk.64x64.JPG LawTalk's Avatar

    LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    933
    I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    845
    JD, 16 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PI/PIExpert/2012-7-1_152453_Attorney.64x64.jpg Brandon, Esq.'s Avatar

    Brandon, Esq.

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    329
    Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PH/phoenixrising119/2012-7-26_11214_043.64x64.jpg melissamesq's Avatar

    melissamesq

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    47
    Represent clients to maximum recovery in employment cases.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IG/Iggy1001/2013-11-20_23344_JApic.64x64.jpg Joseph's Avatar

    Joseph

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    3365
    Extensive experience representing employees and management
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/JK/jkiani22/2013-11-18_15348_JacobKiani1copy2.64x64.jpg jkiani22's Avatar

    jkiani22

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    24
    Attorney
  • /img/opt/shirt.png Legal Counsel's Avatar

    Legal Counsel

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    32
    California Licensed Attorney- 29 years- Wages, Hours, Overtime, Discrimination, Wrongful Termination.