Around this time of year, many employers throw holiday parties for their employees. Although social activities like this are a nice gesture, it should go without saying they cannot and should not be a basis for making employees feel discriminated against if they choose not to participate.
But for two California men, that is exactly what happened, according to the suit they recently filed against their employer. The case may be of interest to Detroit readers since the men were employed by AutoNation, the country’s largest auto parts distributors.
The men say that AutoNation supervisors and coworkers frequently hosted off-site parties at adult entertainment venues and bordellos. They say they told their supervisors and coworkers that they would prefer to focus on work, but were nonetheless retaliated against for declining to participate. They say they were referred to by derogatory terms used to insult gay men, were not considered for promotion and were eventually wrongfully terminated from their positions.
The men also claim they were retaliated against for not drinking or using drugs with supervisors and coworkers.
The two employees are seeking punitive damages for what they claim amounted to sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination and wage-and-hour violations.
AutoNation has not issued a public response to the employees’ suit.
Now, not every case of employment discrimination and harassment is this flagrant and obvious (presuming, of course, that what they men are claiming is true). Harassment and discrimination can be harder to identify and even harder to describe. That being said, we all have the right to work in a place that is free from offensive behavior. If you feel you might have been subjected to harmful conduct, you might want to consider speaking about that with a lawyer.
Source: Courthouse News Service, “Strip Clubs Were Part of the Job,” Tish Kraft, Dec. 13, 2011