Charter Oak High School fired an openly gay water polo coach, Mitch Stein,
after receiving an anonymous complaint about "inappropriate"
photos of Stein pulled from his Facebook page. No, these weren't photos
of Stein doing anything illegal. And no, these weren't lewd or compromising
photos by any means. What do these "scandalous" photos show?
According to reports in
sgvtribune.com, Stein was captured on film: (1) eating a corn dog at the LA County Fair;
and (2) posing with a group of men dressed in drag.
Yet according to Stein, the school told him he wasn't fired for being
gay. And attorneys for the school district explained, "[i]t is inappropriate
for a coach or a teacher to publicly post on a website readily accessible
to his students material with sexual content of any nature." Sexual
content? It's troubling to think about what the future will bring
for favorites like bananas, sausages, and, perhaps, ice cream cones.
While the media had plenty of fun posting photographs of Michele Bachmann
and Rick Perry eating corn dogs, no one suggested that these images warranted
their removal from public office. And why should they?
The key difference—Stein is gay and he coaches school children. So
apparently to this school's administration, eating a corn dog and
posing with drag queens poses a threat to the children. No matter how
the school spins this issue, the reality is clear. The school fired Stein
for being openly gay.
Discrimination against an employee, like Stein, based on sexual orientation is illegal
under state and federal law. Where, as here, the employer takes an adverse
employment action because an employee is (or is thought to be) gay, lesbian,
bisexual, transsexual or transgender, that employer faces civil liability.
In addition, California law also protects employees from workplace harassment
due to sexual orientation, such as threats, abusive behavior or repeated,
offensive jokes related to their sexual orientation.
Markson Pico LLP is committed to protecting the rights of all people, regardless of race,
gender, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation. Click here to contact
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