March 1, 2019 Category: LGBT Discrimination
A California police officer has filed a lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol, accusing his employer of discriminating against him because he is gay. In his lawsuit, Jay Brome claims that he has experienced discrimination and a hostile work environment for the past two decades.
After several complaints filed with his superiors fell on deaf ears, he decided to take more concrete action. He’s not only asking to be compensated for the CHP’s allegedly illegal actions but also fighting for the rights of other LGBT officers across the state.
LGBT Police Officers Face Discrimination Across the Country
Brome isn’t the first officer to file an LGBT discrimination lawsuit against a law enforcement agency. Since 2016, 11 other lawsuits have also been filed by officers who claim to have been mistreated at work because of their sexual orientation. In these lawsuits, the LGBT officers claim they:
- Experience dangerous and/or abusive work environments
- Are held to different standards than other officers in their department
- Have been passed over for promotions and raises without being given a legitimate reason
- Have been denied protection and backup on the job, and
- Are ridiculed and the target of cruel comments and jokes.
Brome, in particular, raised some serious concerns about how he has been treated on the job because of his sexual orientation. He claims that the harassment dates back to when he first attended California’s highway patrol academy. There, another cadet held a gun to his head, accused Brome of being gay, and threatened to pull the trigger.
Brome claims that other officers regularly failed to provide backup and support on the job. At the department, his locker was regularly defaced with homophobic slurs and graffiti. These actions made him feel unsafe and unwanted.
California LGBT Anti-Discrimination Laws
California has some of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country. This is particularly true with regard to LGBT employees. State law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation. If an LGBT employee faces adverse employment actions, they may have the grounds to file a workplace discrimination lawsuit.
There are many ways in which an employer can discriminate against an LGBT employee. Examples include:
- Refusing to hire an LGBT applicant
- Refusing to award a deserved promotion
- Giving promotions or pay raises to other employees
- Revoking a job offer after learning about an applicant’s sexual orientation
- Excluding LBGT employees from regular business operations
- Assigning LGBT employees to unfavorable work schedules or duties
- Firing an employee without cause, and
- Firing an employee for undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
The adverse employment action, as perceived by the employee, must be based on that employee’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Employers still have some degree of latitude and flexibility in making employee-related decisions. If there is a legitimate purpose for an adverse employment action, such as poor job performance or drug use, the employer will probably not be in violation of California anti-discrimination laws.
Employers Prohibited From Harassing LGBT Employees
Brome claims that he experienced a dangerous work environment because he is a gay man. Under California state law harassment is a type of unlawful discrimination. There are two types of workplace harassment – hostile work environment and quid pro quo. Here, Brome accuses his the California Highway Patrol of permitting harassment that created a hostile work environment.
A hostile work environment means that discriminatory and unwelcome behavior and comments based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity:
- Interfere with that employee’s ability to do his or her job, or
- Create an offensive, abusive, or intimidating workplace.
In his lawsuit, Brome describes several occasions on which his co-workers uttered homophobic slurs, tagged his locker with graphic images, and failed to provide support on the job. As a result, Brome felt entirely unsafe at work and was unable to perform his job to the best of his ability.
The harassment became so pervasive that Brome’s was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. His doctor advised him to take medical stress leave to prevent other medical issues from developing.