A former Trader Joe’s store manager recently filed a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit in the Los Angeles County Superior Court against the specialty grocery store. The suit alleges that the beloved manager was fired by Regional Vice-President Caroline Judd because she is gay.
Long-term employee Sandy Holm had worked at Trader Joe’s for 15 years and was “heart-broken” because she loved the company and “did anything and everything that was ever asked” of her.
Discrimination Suit Alleges Trader Joe’s Regional VP Asked Holm Inappropriate Questions
The suit filed by the veteran employee claims that Judd asked inappropriate and personal questions regarding Holm’s sexual orientation. Judd asked questions about Holm’s “partner,” how old her partner was, how long they had been together, and whether they wanted to have children. These questions and others were asked in a manner that caused Holm to think that her supervisor had a problem with people who are gay, and particularly with Holm’s own sexual orientation. According to the suit, Holm was fired shortly after being asked the questions.
Holm Claims Her Donations to LGBT Organizations Also Caused Judd to Fire Her
The lawsuit filed against Trader Joe’s also alleges that Holm felt she was fired for making a handful of charitable donations to LGBT organizations, including the Los Angeles LGBT Center. The suit states that Trader Joe’s allows their store managers (“Store Captains”) to make donations to community groups – with wide discretion. Despite that, according to Holm’s suit, Judd accused her of favoring organizations that were largely LGBT, because of her sexual orientation. The suit says Judd commented that, “I like kitty cats but that doesn’t mean that I can make donations to kitty cat organizations.” Soon after, and without warning, Holm alleges she was termination from her position.
Judd Attempted to Justify Holm’s Termination
The discrimination lawsuit also alleges that Judd tried to defend the reasons for Holm’s firing by saying that there is a written policy within the company that does not allow store managers to make donations to charities that are more than $250.00 unless they have permission from supervisors.
California Law Protects Employees from Sexual Orientation Discrimination
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits sexual orientation discrimination at work. The FEHA protects employees like Sandy Holm from wrongful termination, as well as retaliation if they speak up about sexual orientation discrimination in employment.
Article adapted from original: ‘Former employee files suit against Trader Joe’s for alleged sexual orientation discrimination’ via LGBTweekly.com
Our California employment lawyers at Hennig Ruiz passionately fight for the rights of LGBT employees and all workers who face sexual orientation discrimination. If you feel your employer is unlawfully discriminating against you due to your sexual orientation, contact us today for a free consultation.