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Do I have a lawsuit against my employer? I was recently terminated from my employer due to allegations of sexual harassment

Tupelo, MS |

The HR Dept called me in and asked me if anything had happened during the shift. I told them no and told them about how the night went. They told me I was suspended pending invest. A few days later, I got a call saying I was termed for sexual harassment. My partner works there and found out some details. My lead is the one who reported it, and is now telling everyone he didnt see anything. Also, I am gay and the supposed incident happened with a female. I have worked for the company since start up with no record at all. To my knowledge I supposedly touched her breast, but cannot recall it. They did not even say anything about sexual harassment in my interrogation. So I strongly feel the termination ws due to my sexuality and was wrongfully terminated. Similar incidents have happened w/diff

members of management but their corrective action was just being moved to the opposite shift. I have always have high recommendations from my other management and no record as far as corrective action, attendance, or anything like that. I strongly feel that it was due to my race or sexual orientation that the decision to terminate me was made. The HR representative that spoke to my partner about it stated that it was not her choice and she wished things would have turned out different while crying. Our company is run by japanese who have different cultural and religious beliefs and could definately have played a part in the decision. No one believed them and I would never touch a female regardless. My research on this has been inconclusive being that in some ways it seems I have a case and some ways I dont.

Attorney Answers 2

  1. I am a California attorney and cannot give legal advice in your state. My comments are information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT OFFER SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION. If I mention your state’s laws, it only means I did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant. You MUST check with an attorney licensed in your state to learn your rights.

    Your research was inconclusive because the law is not black and white. There are always several ways to analyze a situation. This is why attorneys spend so much of their time researching the law and analyzing facts.

    I'm sure you will not be surprised to learn there is NO protection for sexual orientation discrimination in MIssissippi. You may be able to make out a claim based on sex discrimination, such as the assumption that the woman's report was correct simply because she is female and you are male. However, these cases are very fact-specific. The Avvo board is not set up to handle the kind of detailed analysis needed to offer helpful guidance. Avvo works best for short, specific questions that allow for short, specific answers. Perhaps more importantly, anyone can read the discussions on Avvo so they are not confidential. The employer or whomever is involved in the dispute can read everything written here. You will do yourself a favor by consulting with one or more experienced plaintiffs employment attorneys with whom you can discuss the details.

    You can find a plaintiffs employment attorney on the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) web site NELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the country for attorneys representing working people. You can search by location and practice area. Also, NELA has affiliates in every state and many cities which are listed on the NELA site. Not all NELA attorneys are named on the web site or affiliate site. This should not influence your selection; attorneys can choose whether or not to purchase a listing in the national directory, and each affiliate has its own rules for listing.

    You may want to review discrimination law before speaking with an attorney. Many people misunderstand the meaning of employment discrimination. “Discrimination” does not mean an employer has to be fair, respectful or has to make good decisions. Workplace discrimination means the employer treats one person or group differently from others who are not in the same group, but are similarly situated.

    The only workplace discrimination that is illegal is discrimination that is against public policy. Public policy refers only to things that are specifically prohibited by a statute (law) enacted by the legislature, or prohibited by a regulation promulgated (established) by a government agency. Under federal law, public policy includes statutes prohibiting discrimination against people in specific protected groups, which include sex, race, national origin, disability, age (40 years and older), religion, marital status, pregnancy and genetic information. Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination. There is no federal protection for sexual orientation discrimination, but many states provide this protection.

    Public policy also protects people who blow the whistle on a matter of public concern, complain about improper wage and hour practices, and a few more rights protected by statute.

    An employer cannot refuse to hire, refuse to promote, change terms of employment or fire an employee if the reason for the change is against the law (against public policy). For example, an employer cannot increase your workload because of your race, sex, national origin, religion, etc. or because you blew the whistle on safety violations. For more information on employment discrimination, please see my Avvo guide on this subject:

    *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

  2. The short answer is no based on the facts you have presented. They are no federal or state laws that apply in Mississippi that would protect for discrimination based on sexual orientation. The only way you might could have a claim based on sex discrimination is if a lesbian had been accused of sexual harassment as well and they treated her better. You could have a race discrimination if they referenced your race in the termination as being the reason or someone outside of your race was also accused of sexual harassment, and they treated that person differently. I assume you are referring to the Toyota plant near Tupelo. Toyota has a very good Human Resources department, and you are going to need an experienced lawyer to fight them. I normally do not do work in Tupelo, but Jim Waide is based in Tupelo and has a very good reputation for these types of cases. I recommend you give his office a call.

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