As an employee, exercising your rights can sometimes seem like a dangerous and frightening prospect. You may fear some kind of retaliation, or be worried that you'll be fired for speaking out against those with power over you. But it is precisely because you have rights that you should not be afraid to exercise them. There are laws in place protecting employees from discrimination and sexual harassment, laws designed to promote a safe and fair workplace.
One former deputy took advantage of his rights in Lake County, California. The deputy claimed that derogatory comments were made in relation to his Iranian descent, and even claimed that he was passed over for promotion opportunities due to a hostile work environment. The deputy's 20 years of employment with the Lake County Sheriff's Office ended in 2010, when the sheriff's office claimed that the deputy was insubordinate during an internal affairs investigation.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claimed that the deputy was the victim of discriminatory acts, but could not confidently claim that he was denied promotion based on racial discrimination. Still, the deputy sued the county for discrimination in early 2013 and is set to go to trial next month. There has been a great deal of back and forth about the case, with Sacramento County's former sheriff set to testify that the deputy's treatment was entirely based upon his conduct and not the result of racial discrimination.
While the deputy's conduct on the job may be an issue, nothing justifies discriminating against an employee for any reason, including race, gender or sexual orientation. The law protects employees from retaliation and discrimination. Employees need to exercise their rights to benefit from them and a California attorney may be able to offer guidance.
Source: Lake County News, "Former deputy's discrimination case against county set for trial in federal court," Elizabeth Larson, May 30, 2014