Lawsuit Claims Employer Fired Plaintiff for Reporting Racial Discrimination, Sexual Harassment Within Company

Torus_Trooper_-_Game_Over.jpgA federal lawsuit accuses a New York business of firing the plaintiff in retaliation for his report of unlawful employment practices. Giraldo v. The Change Group New York, Inc., et al, No. 1:14-cv-00375, complaint (S.D.N.Y., Jan. 21, 2014). The plaintiff, who is a gay man, also alleges that he was subjected to ongoing sexual harassment, discrimination, and a hostile work environment based on sexual orientation. The lawsuit asserts causes of action for retaliation, discrimination, and harassment in violation of federal, state, and city law.

The plaintiff was employed as a sales consultant by a currency exchange group in Manhattan from December 2012 until November 2013. He alleges multiple instances of harassment by two managers in the office, including inappropriate comments about his sexual orientation. One of the managers allegedly displayed similar behavior towards female employees and customers on a regular basis. The plaintiff claimed that he also frequently made “ethnically and racially discriminatory comments towards African American employees,” Muslim employees, and the plaintiff, who is Hispanic of Colombian descent.

In a seemingly-anonymous email sent to company executives just after midnight on October 8, 2013, the plaintiff complained about the two managers’ allegedly widespread discrimination and harassment. He identified multiple specific instances of inappropriate sexual and racial comments directed to the plaintiff, and inappropriate comments and behavior directed at others. He also noted his concern that speaking out publicly would cost him his job, as people who expressed dissenting opinions were often “squashed or treated as heretics” by the managers. He specifically stated that if he attached his name to the email, he believed he would be fired.

After he sent the email, he says that the manager began a campaign of “blatantly unlawful retaliation” to identify the email’s author. This included interviewing multiple sales consultants with questions specifically geared to determining if they wrote the email. Co-workers reportedly told the plaintiff that the managers believed it was him, and were looking for a way to fire him. They also allegedly believed he had an accomplice in another sales associate, Ashley Bailey, and were looking for a reason to fire her, too.

The plaintiff eventually agreed to take the “blame” for the email in exchange for Bailey keeping her job, and he was fired on November 3. As further evidence of the company’s retaliatory intent, the plaintiff claims that he received an email the same day he sent the anonymous email that stated “Game over…Gerard, Ashley IP Traced.” This presumably referred to the internet protocol (IP) address of the plaintiff’s computer.

The lawsuit asserts causes of action against all defendants for retaliation in violation of federal law under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981, the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), and the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL); and discrimination and harassment in violation of the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL. It also asserts a causes of action against the two individual managers for aiding and abetting the company’s violations of the NYSHRL and the NYCHRL. It seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, reinstatement of the plaintiff to the position he would have had but for the defendants’ unlawful conduct, and monetary damages.

The employment attorneys at the Resnick Law Group help employees in New Jersey and New York assert their rights under state and federal anti-discrimination laws. To schedule a confidential consultation to see how we can help you, please contact us today online, at 973-781-1204, or at 646-867-7997.

More Blog Posts:

Settlement Shows Workplace Sexual Harassment Can Happen Anywhere in New Jersey and Elsewhere, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, January 29, 2014
Hudson County Jury Awards Former Public Safety Director $440,000 in Back Pay for Unlawful Race Discrimination, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, January 15, 2014
OSHA Award Demonstrates that Employers in New Jersey and Elsewhere May Not Retaliate Against Workers Who Refuse to Violate the Law, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, January 13, 2014
Photo credit: By Kenta Cho (moral author) [GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0, or CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

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