LA County Firefighter Faced Religious and Ethnic Discrimination - Manneliasem
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LA County Firefighter Faced Religious and Ethnic Discrimination

Experiencing discrimination in the workplace can impact the way you think about organizational culture, opportunities, including the aftermath of filing a complaint. A veteran Los Angeles Country firefighter alleged his employer denied him a promotion for being Cuban and Catholic in 2020. His employer also made a cross in front of Robert Villa’s evaluators, intended for religious reasons in front of the gospel, in church, or for personal use.

Last year, Villa took the engineering exam and passed the challenging portions of the test. That was no easy task. In the lawsuit, his Los Angeles ethnicity discrimination attorney addressed that before starting, Villa did the sign of the cross. As a practicing Roman Catholic, he was well within his legal rights to do so. The case notes that the evaluators were of non-Cuban descent.

In addition to mocking his cultural practices, Villa alleged they discriminated against him by subtracting extra points for simple mistakes compared to his peers. According to City News Service, two non-Cuban applicants who made the same mistake only lost two points. The only differences standing between them were ethnicity and religion per the suit. He had also been penalized for:

  • Going 44 mph in a 50-mph zone without issues
  • Improperly handling vertical clearance of bridges, causing an 11-point deduction

The suit also alleged that “The cumulative effect of these inappropriate deductions was that the raters failed Villa on the engineer examination. In doing so, the raters favored Caucasians and other non-Cuban, non-Catholic candidates and held it against Villa for doing the sign of the cross before starting the test,” according to City News.

Religious and Ethnic Discrimination
Religious and ethnic discrimination has been on the rise over the years. Each incident is unique for everyone. In most cases, an employer treats an employee less favorably based on their beliefs and appearance. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all employees from discriminatory acts.

Because he failed the exam, Villa has sustained financial damage, pain, and suffering. That was not only a setback in his career but a missed opportunity for him to help the community further.

How Can an Employment Attorney Help?
If you are experiencing any form of discrimination or harassment at work, it is best to consult with an experienced Los Angeles workplace lawyer. We can advise you of your legal rights and discuss how to address what occurred to your employer or HR. We can also represent you in court if the case escalates, with little to no support from the organization you are employed.


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