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Gay Long Beach man wins almost $400,000 from former employer

A man who worked as a medical assistant at a Long Beach medical practice has been awarded almost $400,000. A jury found the man's former employer and the doctor who owns the practice liable for discrimination against him for being gay.

The plaintiff, who also lives in Long Beach, began working at the Spring Family Medical Group in 2010. He says that when he was going through his initial employee orientation, the doctor who owns the practice asked him if he was gay – a question that California employers cannot legally ask an employee. The plaintiff said that he was thereafter subjected to discrimination and harassment by the doctor.

According to the plaintiff, he complained "numerous times" about the harassment, which included the use of gay slurs. He says that he was also "mocked in front of patients." However, instead of making the situation better, he says that the doctor retaliated against him by firing him. He had been employed there for only about six months.

The plaintiff's attorney noted after the verdict that discrimination against gay people is the "last form of discrimination that is socially acceptable." He said that the verdict in this case "sends a message that it will not be tolerated."

Many people assume that employers know by now what is and is not acceptable behavior in the workplace. Sadly, however, some people allow their personal beliefs to override appropriate professional behavior. People who have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace because of their sexual orientation have every right to seek legal recourse to recover lost wages and obtain appropriate compensation for the emotional and psychological harm caused by workplace taunting. California employers who do not abide by the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and other characteristics, can and should be held responsible for their actions.

Source: Press-Telegram, "Jury awards Long Beach man nearly $400K in discrimination suit" Beatriz Valenzuela, Jan. 24, 2014

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