Longtime executive sues Disney, ABC for sexual orientation discrimination

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Workplace discrimination is not limited to low-level employees. Anyone from entry-level workers to executives can be a potential target. No matter how much power your job title seems to give you, there are likely people at your same level or above you who can make doing your job impossible or damage your career with illegal bias.

Early in June, a longtime executive with the Walt Disney Company sued the company for sexual orientation discrimination. The man, who has worked as an executive for Disney since 1994, says that he has been repeatedly passed over for promotions and pay raises since he came out as gay in 2000. According to the lawsuit, he was promoted several times before Disney’s leadership learned about the man’s sexual orientation, but his career growth halted at that point.

Sexual orientation discrimination in California workplaces

Anti-workplace discrimination laws like the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the federal Civil Rights Act prohibit employment discrimination based on a victim’s identification with one or more of several “protected classes.” Protected classes include race, gender, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs and immigration status. While the Civil Rights Act does not protect California workers from sexual orientation-based discrimination, the Fair Employment and Housing Act does.

Discrimination can take several forms, but the law sorts them into two general categories. The first category involves things like refusing to hire, train or promote based solely on their being a part of a protected class. In the second category, a worker’s superiors and/or co-workers create a toxic work environment so pervasive that it is virtually impossible for the worker to do their job. Things like threats, offensive jokes and comments, and sharing inappropriate photos or videos are examples of contributing to a toxic work environment.