Shegerian & Associates, Inc., a Santa Monica-based litigation law firm specializing in employee rights, has announced that it is representing John Ornelas, a 40-year-old gay Latino man who claims to have endured a litany of harassing, discriminatory behavior at the hands of his supervisor at the Jimmy Choo store in Beverly Hills where he worked. In his complaint, Ornelas also claims that after he reported the mistreatment, he was wrongfully terminated.

Shegerian & Associates founder Carney Shegerian describes the case as a distinct violation of the labor code and an example of egregious wrongful termination coupled with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and on the basis of race.

Ornelas was hired in 2011 as a sales associate at Jimmy Choo. In 2012, he began working at the Rodeo Drive store where at all times he performed his job duties in an exemplary manner. After working at the Beverly Hills location for about a month, Ornelas claims that his immediate supervisor began regularly insulting and mocking him, often using derogatory terms to describe his homosexuality and Hispanic background. Ornelas repeatedly asked the supervisor to stop tormenting him, but in his complaint, he describes how she persisted – even going as far as using flippant derogatory terms after Ornelas’ partner of 12 years tragically passed away.

Ornelas reported the discriminatory and harassing behavior to management multiple times but nothing was done to improve his situation, and he claims the discrimination, in fact, became worse. According to Ornelas’ complaint, things came to a boiling point one day in October of 2014, when he was helping a group of customers with a sale. He explains that his supervisor suddenly approached and claimed, “I’m taking this sale” and reported the sale as her own. According to Ornelas, when he confronted the supervisor before management, the supervisor claimed, “They will always choose me over some gay Mexican trash like you.” Management credited the sale to Ornelas, but two days later, Ornelas claims the supervisor told him, “you’re finished.” He was terminated that day.

“The treatment that Mr. Ornelas endured by his supervisor at Jimmy Choo was despicable,” said Shegerian. “And when he tried to do something about it, he was wrongfully terminated. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of a successful company not following its own rules, let alone the labor code – and costing a hard-working exemplary employee his livelihood and emotional distress in the process. People in positions of power harassing and discriminating against their employees is a huge problem that simply must stop. It’s our job to help Mr. Ornelas seek justice and hopefully make a public statement that this kind of abuse – in any workplace – cannot be tolerated.”

(Case no. BC617111)


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