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California gays targeted by retailer in workplace discrimination

An ex-employee of Home Depot in Santa Ana accused the home improvement store of singling out gay workers for termination in an attempt to cut costs after the start of the 2008 financial meltdown. He sued Home Depot, seeking $100,000 to compensate for the alleged sexual orientation discrimination, sexual harassment and other damages. The 57-year-old former employee said that the unlawful firing happened after he had worked for Home Depot for 25 years.

Allegations made in the filing included that the retailer perceived gay men as costing more in medical benefits due to the HIV virus and AIDS, and that Home Depot did not want to pay the costs of benefits that California law required be offered to all domestic partners, not just traditional married couples. Although the suit claimed that the relevant legislation was the California Domestic Relationship Act, which went into effect in 2012, lawmakers in the state actually passed the relevant California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act in 2003, and it went into effect in 2005, three years before the onset of the financial crisis.

According to the lawsuit, shortly after the man registered his domestic partnership in 2011, Home Depot started the implementation of a scheme in which older workers, including gay employees, would be subjected to write-ups based on false information. One of the write-ups was allegedly about a man crushing a microwave in a trash compactor in violation of rules for dealing with hazardous materials.

In California, sexual orientation discrimination, age discrimination and national origin discrimination are against the law. An attorney who is experienced in employment law may be able to help individuals who believe they have suffered from workplace discrimination. An attorney's help could include arranging financial compensation for these and other wrongs.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Gay Staff Too Costly for Home Depot, Man Says", Matt Reynolds, October 04, 2013

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