EEOC Sues IXL Learning for Retaliation and Gender Identity Discrimination in California
A Bay Area educational technology company has been sued for retaliation and gender identity discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has accused San Mateo-based IXL Learning Inc. of violating federal law by firing product analyst, Adrian Scott Duane after he spoke out against the company’s discrimination practices online.
The complaint states that IXL terminated Duane from his position merely minutes after he was confronted about his company review he had posted on Glassdoor.com, a popular job rating site. According to the Bay Area Reporter, Duane, who started working for IXL in July of 2013, wrote this Glassdoor.com review:
“If you’re not a family-oriented white or Asian straight or mainstream gay person with 1.7 kids who really likes softball – then you’re likely to find yourself on the outside … Most management do not know what the word ‘discrimination’ means, nor do they seem to think it matters.”
Complaint Details Slew of Discrimination Claims
The complaint alleges that Duane had told coworkers that IXL was “unwelcoming” to workers who were not able-bodied, Asian-American, white, or didn’t “fit into neat categories of gender identity, orientation, and expression.” The complaint also states that some IXL employees had “probed Duane with inappropriate questions about his gender identity and orientation.”
According to the complaint, Duane said he had also requested to telecommute during his recovery from gender confirmation surgery, yet IXL treated his request differently than similar requests made by his straight coworkers. Soon after, Duane wrote his Glassdoor.com post. Then in January 2015, Duane met with his supervisor and reported his concerns about discrimination occurring at IXL. Two days later, Duane spoke with IXL’s CEO where he was confronted about his Glassdoor.com post. The CEO then fired Duane after confirming his involvement.
In a news release, EEOC trial attorney Ami Sanghvi stated, “While the platforms for employees to speak out against discrimination are evolving with technology, the laws against retaliation remain constant. If an employee reasonably believes that illegal discrimination occurred, the EEOC will vigorously defend that worker’s right to raise the issue, whether they do so by filing a charge with our agency, notifying company management or posting in a public arena such as Glassdoor.com.”
NLRB Sides with IXL Learning
While the EEOC claims they met all conditions necessary before filing the lawsuit, the NLRB decision stated that Duane’s “angry and impulsive” Glassdoor.com post was “childish ridicule in the nature of a personal attack on [IXL’s] ability to recruit new employees than as related to a legitimate labor dispute or ongoing grievances from a group of employees” and that his “discharge was lawful.”
The EEOC’s remaining area of inquiry is now related to retaliation. The agency seeks lost wages, damages, and injunctive relief aimed at preventing similar discrimination in the workplace.
Read the original story on The Bay Area Reporter
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