Reverse Discrimination « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles

Reverse Discrimination

“Reverse discrimination” is a variant of religious discrimination.  Reverse discrimination means a plaintiff asserts the employer wrongfully discriminated against him/her because plaintiff did not adhere to the employer’s religious beliefs.   In reverse discrimination cases, the plaintiff claims religious discrimination based on the religious beliefs of the employer, and the fact that the employee does not share those beliefs.  The plaintiff claims his/her lack of adherence to the religious beliefs promoted by company management was what led to the unlawful discrimination the plaintiff later faced.  To establish this claim, plaintiff has the burden of proving all of the following: (1) plaintiff was subjected to some adverse employment action; (2) at the time the adverse employment action was taken, plaintiff’s job performance was satisfactory; and (3) plaintiff can show some additional evidence to support the inference that the employment action was taken because of a discriminatory motive based upon plaintiff’s failure to hold or follow his/her employer’s religious beliefs. 
 
In Venters v. City of Delphi, the plaintiff was able to prove she was wrongfully discriminated against based on this theory of “reverse discrimination.”  Plaintiff’s supervisor gave plaintiff a bible and other religious materials and then told her she would no longer work at that company unless she started going to church and following God’s way.  The supervisor asserted plaintiff practiced incest and bestiality and she should commit suicide.  Plaintiff asked supervisor to stop but he continued making similar statements.  After her termination, plaintiff sued for religiously motivated discharge.   
 
The court noted that her claim was not that her employer refused to accommodate her religious practices, but that her employer discharged her because she did not measure up to her supervisor’s religious expectations.  Plaintiff’s supervisor didn’t simply share his religious beliefs with her; instead he made it clear if she did not conform to those views she would be discharged.  The court determined under these circumstances of religion in the workplace, the plaintiff need only show that her perceived religious shortcomings played a motivating role in her discharge.   The court concluded plaintiff had a right to work without being compelled to submit herself to her supervisor’s religious scrutiny.