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Lesbian former employee sues Hasbro for sexual orientation and sex discrimination

Joanna Lapati, a lesbian former employee at Hasbro’s Rhode Island office, filed a sexual orientation and sex discrimination lawsuit against the toy company on January 17, 2014.

Lapati filed a formal Charge of Discrimination with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (“RICHR”) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) prior to filing her discrimination lawsuit.

Lapati was a supervisor in the Hasbro Model Artist Division in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and she had been a Hasbro employee for approximately 14 years until she was fired on January 23, 2013.

Lapati claims that Hasbro terminated her “because of her attempts to ensure compliance with the Employer’s workplace policies and federal and state laws regarding hostile work environment and workplace discrimination regarding another employee.”

According to the complaint:

At the time of her termination, the Employer [Hasbro] informed her that the reason for her termination was that she had violated the employer’s Code of Conduct.  Human Resources refused to provide the Plaintiff [Lapati] specifics regarding this alleged violation, but made a general allegation that Plaintiff was present for, and participated in, a sexually inappropriate comment.

Plaintiff was told that she was not entitled to specific information or any documentation regarding the allegation that she violated the employer’s Code of Conduct.

Plaintiff requested the opportunity to dispute the allegation…but was informed that the decision was “final.”

Plaintiff did not engage in any misconduct, and the Employer did not provide any facts to support such an allegation.

During her tenure of employment, Plaintiff was also an ardent and vocal advocate of women’s rights in the workplace and frequently complained about what she perceived as Hasbro’s history of failing to accord respect and equal treatment to women employees.

Because of Plaintiff’s open commitment to the cause of women’s rights, her gender, and her sexual orientation, the Employer falsely accused her of wrongdoing in order to have a basis for termination.

The Rhode Island Department of Employment and Training has determined that the Plaintiff did not engage in any misconduct warranting her discharge, and awarded her full unemployment benefits.

The Defendant has intentionally and willfully engaged in a series of unlawful acts, practices, policies, and procedures in violation of state and federal law intended to prevent employment discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.

The Defendant’s conduct reflects, in both purpose and effect, a blantant, willful, and/or malicious pattern of discrimination and unlawful treatment against the Plaintiff.  Such conduct has involved an intentional, reckless, and/or callous indifference to the statutorily protected rights of the Plaintiff.  The Defendant knowingly and purposefully subjected the Plaintiff to humiliating discriminatory and unlawful treatment as a result of her gender and sexual orientation and her attempt to assert her legal rights.

The wrongful actions by Defendant and its agents complained of herein were taken without justification, excuse, or defense, but rather were taken in a purposefully discriminatory and unlawful manner, and have caused the Plaintiff lost employment, lost wages, lost benefits, humiliation, embarrassment and physical harm, and other damages.

Lesbian former employee sues Hasbro for sexual orientation and sex discrimination
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