Exclusively Employment Law

Sexual Orientation Discrimination: Are You Perceived As “Too Gay?”

by | Dec 29, 2021 | Discrimination

Sexual orientation discrimination can come in many forms: the discriminatory animus may be directed at gay employees in general, or as the California Court of Appeal case Husman v. Toyota Motor Credit Corporation, 12 Cal.App.5th 1168 (2017) demonstrates, the discriminatory animus may be directed at a subset of gay employees (e.g., gay employees who are perceived as purportedly being “too gay”). A brief summary of the Husman case is below.

Joseph Husman, an openly gay employee, ran the diversity and inclusion program for Toyota Financial Services U.S.A., the brand name for Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (“Toyota”).

After Toyota terminated Husman’s employment, Husman sued Toyota, alleging a number of claims, including sexual orientation discrimination. Specifically, Husman presented evidence that David Pelliccioni, Toyota’s chief administrative officer and senior vice president, “harbored stereotypical views of gay men.” (Husman v. Toyota Motor Credit Corp.) At various times, Pelliccioni had made comments that Husman perceived as being anti-gay. For instance, Pelliccioni observed that Husman made “a very clear statement” about his sexual orientation and that he should cut his hair. He also ridiculed Husman for wearing a scarf as an accessory when it was not cold outside. (Id.) Husman argued that these comments, “while possibly not patently offensive to a non-gay observer, revealed that Pelliccioni viewed him as ‘too gay’ and incompatible with Toyota’s corporate culture, even if a less obviously gay employee would be acceptable.” (Id.)

In light of the above, the Court of Appeal found that Husman presented sufficient evidence to show that a substantial motivating factor for Husman’s termination was invidious sex or gender stereotyping relating to his sexual orientation, more specifically, the perception that Husman was “too gay.” The Court of Appeal accordingly allowed Husman’s sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit to proceed to trial. Read the full California Court of Appeal opinion here.

If you believe that you have been subjected to sexual orientation discrimination at work, call 916-612-0326 or email ([email protected]) Finley Employment Law today. Finley Employment Law serves clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Roseville, Davis, Folsom, and Elk Grove.

The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.