SW Legal studies in Business

Sex Discrimination Claim May Not Be Based on Discrimination for Sexual Orientation
Description

District court dismissed a suit brought by a city worker who claimed hostile work environment based on sexual preference. The case was dismissed because sexual preference is not covered by Title VII. Further, his employer had the right to reassign him to another position in the organization regardless if the motive for the assignment was based on sexual orientation.

Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words

Sex Discrimination; Hostile Environment; Sexual Orientation

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Luis Ayala-Sepulveda worked for several years as an administrative assistant for a city in Puerto Rico. He claimed that when he took classes on emergency rescue procedures, he was ridiculed by coworkers due to his sexual orientation. He was told that he could not work as a rescuer because he was homosexual. He contended that over the next couple years, there was a pattern of discrimination and retaliation against him, especially after he had a relationship with another male coworker, Rodriguez. However, Rodriguez claimed there was no relationship and that Ayala made up the story. Ayala claimed that Rodriguez then threatened him with bodily harm. The city director of human resources, afraid that Ayala may in fact suffer harm, suggested that he transfer to another city department. The mayor supported the job change. Ayala refused. The mayor reassigned him anyway. Ayala filed a complaint for discrimination with the EEOC and then sued the city and the mayor for sex discrimination. Defendants moved to have the case dismissed.

Decision

Motion granted. Title VIIís prohibition against discrimination because of sex does not include claims for hostile environment due to sexual orientation. Hence, Ayala has failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination. Under Puerto Rican law, Ayala does not have a protected property interest in performing a particular job and preventing a transfer to a different position. His employer has the right to reassign him.

Citation

Ayala-Sepulveda v. Municipality of San German, ---F.Supp.2d--- (2009 WL 3199861, D. Puerto Rico, 2009)

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