Both California law and federal law prohibit employers from engaging in racial discrimination against employees or allowing racial discrimination to occur at their workplaces. Additionally, employers may not retaliate against employees who call attention to acts of discrimination.
This does not mean that all employers abide by the relevant laws. The past and current struggles faced by one California firefighter call attention to this.
Vernon Creswell, a Black man, began working for the Montebello Fire Department in 2008. He continued to serve in the department until January 5, 2021, when he was fired.
Creswell believes he lost his job because his employer was retaliating against him for being a whistleblower. He initially sued the city in 2013 for discrimination, citing numerous instances in which he was the target of racial slurs within the department. He took further legal action against the city in 2017. This time, Creswell’s complaint was that he was a victim of retaliation due to his earlier lawsuit.
Creswell filed the 2017 lawsuit because he had applied for a promotion which he was denied. He believes he was denied this promotion because he brought racial discrimination within the department to light.
In one of his lawsuits, Creswell specifically stated, “Some of the department leadership made remarks such as ‘If promoted to battalion chief, I would destroy the organization’ and ‘minorities always cheat on exams,’ indicating that they would never give me a fair chance at the promotion because of my prior complaints of race discrimination, harassment and retaliation.”
Along with accusing the department of discrimination and retaliation, Creswell has also accused the department of engaging in such illegal activities as ordering an off-duty fire engine to illegally leave the city limits to participate in an East Los Angeles birthday parade. He also claimed that at one time leadership at the Montebello Fire Department ordered an employee to travel outside of the city using a city vehicle to pick up watches for the personal use of leaders within the department. Creswell’s latest lawsuit suggests his employment was terminated due to his willingness to speak up about the department’s illegal conduct.
Hopefully, you will never face such struggles in your own workplace. If you do, however, you can take legal action to hold your employer accountable.
Just keep in mind that proving you have been the victim of discrimination, retaliation, or other such unethical behaviors on the part of an employer can be difficult. Proving you have a valid case often requires conducting a thorough investigation.
This is not meant to discourage you from filing a claim or lawsuit against an employer if you have reason to do so. It is meant to encourage you to improve your chances of winning your case by hiring a legal professional to offer the assistance you need in these circumstances.
At Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers, our Los Angeles whistleblower attorneys are on hand to provide you with aggressive and effective representation. Learn more about what we can do for you by contacting us online today calling us at 310-740-9890 to schedule your consultation.
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