Mitch Stein, a former water polo coach and high school teacher, has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Charter Oak High School in California, according to the Los Angeles Times. Stein alleges he was terminated after school administrators obtained photographs of Stein wearing make-up and one of him pretending to take a bite out of a battered corn dog at a fair. Stein claims he was held to a different standard because he is a homosexual.
Stein, 36, served as an assistant coach on the school’s water polo team. Charter Oak is Stein’s alma mater. Stein admittedly posted the photographs in question onto the internet years before he was terminated.
“I just didn’t feel there was anything to hide,” says Stein.
In 2003, another gay teacher filed a sexual orientation discrimination suit against Charter Oak, claiming he was harassed by an administrator. According to Terry Stanfill, an assistant superintendent at Charter Oak, there was no substance to the claim.
“It was a lot like the military, very ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ You don’t feel welcomed,” Stein told reporters. “I don’t have to worry about it affecting my profession. I’ll take this all the way. There’s only one outcome and that is that I get put back on the pool deck.”
Stein is right to stand up; there seems to be some sort of problem at Charter Oak High School. Unless the school can provide a just cause for the termination, they may be looking at a costly settlement or judgement. If you have faced discrimination or harassment at work, contact a knowledgeable attorney immediately.
Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob—Los Angeles employment law attorneys