Employee Claims She Was Wrongfully Fired After Disclosing Her Sexual Orientation
For more than twenty years, our sexual orientation discrimination lawyers in Marion County, Florida have litigated employment discrimination cases in Florida courts. Through their decades of experience representing employment discrimination victims, our sexual orientation discrimination attorneys in Ocala, Florida know that many employees are targeted for termination after disclosing their sexual orientation. In this article, our sexual orientation discrimination lawyers in Marion County, Florida explain how the decision in Gamble v. Fieldston Lodge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 2023 WL 46393739 (S.D. N.Y. Sept. 30, 2023) shows that employees are protected from termination by federal employment discrimination law after disclosing their sexual identity.
Sexual Orientation Discrimination Is Unlawful
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. For decades, federal court consistently ruled that Title VII’s protection against sex discrimination did not protect employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status. Consequently, employers were allowed to discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status without violating Title VII. In Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S.Ct. 1731 (2020), the U.S. Supreme Court swept aside decades of federal court precedent and ruled that discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII. Following the landmark decision in Bostock, discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status is now a discriminatory employment practice forbidden by Title VII.
Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuit
In Gamble, a woman named Gamble brought a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, Fieldston Lodge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (“Fieldston”), pursuant to Title VII. Gamble claims that Fieldston terminated her employment because of her sexual orientation in violation of Title VII.
Gamble was employed at Fieldston, a rehabilitation and nursing facility in the Bronx, as a Certified Nursing Assistant from May 2013 until August 2019. For several years, Gamble’s sexual orientation was not known by her co-workers. On May 21, 2019, however, Gamble posted a video of her May 18, 2019 engagement to her same sex partner on Facebook. When she returned to work the following day, Gamble was approached by a co-worker who told her that several employees were sharing and discussing the engagement video. Soon afterward, according to Gamble, several of her co-workers made derogatory comments about her sexual orientation.
After the circulation of the engagement video, Gamble alleges that she also experienced a marked shift in how her co-workers treated her. Gamble claims that she relayed her concerns about the mistreatment to an who oversaw Fieldston’s Human Resources, Tirado. Gamble asserts that she spoke to Tirado about the mistreatment “every other day” from the time she returned to the office following her engagement in May 2019 until her eventual termination. Gamble alleges that she told Tirado, “the staff needs to be in-serviced on how to treat people,” and that Tirado laughed in response.
Fired After Disclosing Sexual Orientation
Gamble testified in her deposition that she did not “want [the engagement video] to get out because [she knows] how people who are gay have been treated in that facility before.” In support of that account, Gamble testified, among other things, that: (1) she once heard Fieldston’s Executive Administrator use a homophobic slur in a conference room with other Fieldston employees; and (2) several Fieldston employees, including the Executive Administrator and Tirado, made jokes and gestures about an employee believed to be homosexual, including mocking how he walked.
In mid-to-late August 2019, approximately three months after the disclosure of the engagement video, the Executive Administrator called Gamble into his office and terminated her employment. Fieldston claims that Gamble’s employment was terminated because of a lack of available work. Fieldston further claims that the Executive Administrator was not aware of Gamble’s sexual orientation at the time of her termination. Gamble disputes the Executive Administrator’s proffered lack of knowledge about her sexual orientation, and states that his and Tirado’s offices are adjacent, and that he “sits in her office all day and they talk.” Gamble also claims that she had “plenty of work left on [her] desk” the day she was fired and that her hours worked remained relatively consistent throughout all of 2019 leading up to her termination in August 2019.
Timing Reflects Discriminatory Discharge
Fieldston filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Gamble’s sexual orientation discrimination claim. In denying Fieldston’s motion for dismissal, the trial court focused on the timing between Gamble’s disclosure of her sexual orientation and her termination. The trial court pointed out that only three months “transpired between the disclosure of [Gamble’s] engagement video in late May and her termination in mid-to-late August.” This short time period, the trial court reasoned, was “adequate to support” an inference that Gamble was fired because of her sexual orientation. The trial court also observed that Gamble testified that the Executive Administrator, “after regularly speaking with her on Fridays, largely ignored her following the video’s revelation, and she had previously witnessed him and other Fieldston employees making fun of an employee believed to be homosexual.” Based on this evidence, the trial court concluded, a reasonable jury could find that Gamble was fired because of her sexual orientation in violation of Title VII.
Marion County, FL Discrimination Lawyers
Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our sexual orientation discrimination lawyers in Marion County, Florida have fought for the rights of employment discrimination victims for more than twenty years. If you have experienced sexual orientation discrimination at work or have questions about your protection from sexual orientation discrimination under federal employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our sexual orientation discrimination lawyers in Marion County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.