#208 – A Murky Case of Discrimination

The prospective client who met with me this morning clearly wasn’t joking.  Nonetheless, as interesting as his situation sounded, I didn’t think I could help him.  But since I’m no expert in employment law, I said I’d refer him to an expert in the area for further consultation.  I’ll do my best, yet I don’t expect anyone – expert or otherwise – to extract a viable case from this man’s circumstances.

When I first asked “Alfredo” to tell my why he needed legal representation, he asked: “Isn’t it illegal for an employer to discriminate against the handicapped?”

Since Alfredo exhibited no outward signs of physical impairment, I responded with a question of my own: “Why? Are you handicapped?”

“Well, a doctor told me I have a compulsion.  Isn’t that the same thing?”

“I don’t know.  What’s your compulsion?”

Alfredo matter-of-factly explained: “I need to take all my clothes off whenever I go to the bathroom, except for my shoes and socks of course.”

“Of course,” I disbelievingly exclaimed.  “In your own home, I presume.”

“There and anywhere else I happen to be when nature calls.”

“Even when you pee?”


“You mean to say you stand naked at urinals in public bathrooms?”

“God no!” Alfredo insisted.  “I’m not some perverted lunatic!  In public, I always use the bathroom stall.”

“Naturally,” I agreed.  “Did you get fired because of your ‘compulsion’?”

“Not exactly,” Alfredo conceded.  “You see, last week I had to go while I was at work.  We have a couple of unisex bathrooms meant for single users.  Once I locked the door, I took off my clothes and left them on top of the sink while I went into the stall to do my business.  I suppose the lock must’ve been broken though, because I heard the bathroom door open and close at one point.  When I finished up, I found that all my clothes were gone!  I never caught the jerk who took them either.”

“Wow!  What happened next?”

Alfredo continued his story: “I consider myself a conscientious employee.  Since we were really busy at work, I couldn’t abandon my post. So I snuck out of the bathroom, covered myself as best I could and went back to my job.  That’s when I got fired. Do you think I have a case?”

I wasn’t sure of anything, yet.  Before I ventured an opinion, I needed answers to a couple of additional inquiries: “Wait a minute.  Didn’t you explain the situation to your boss?”

“Sure I did!”

“And what did he say?”

“He told me Board of Health rules require a restaurant’s chef to wear something more than an apron while cooking lunch.”

Suitable chef’s wear … when accompanied by shirt and pants.

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