The state civil rights commission, in its first rulings since an overhaul by Gov. George Deukmejian, has awarded more than $130,000 in three job discrimination cases and shown no signs of departing from past policies.
Predictions by some lawyers of a new, pro-management tilt by the Fair Employment and Housing Commission were not borne out by the commission's first rulings, issued after a meeting last month.
The seven-member commission has been criticized by much of the business community, which supported a ruling by the state Supreme Court last fall prohibiting the commission from awarding punitive damages in job discrimination cases.
Some civil rights and labor lawyers foresaw a conservative shift after the governor decided not to reappoint two of the commission's more liberal members and named three new members, one of them a management lawyer who endorsed the Supreme Court ruling.
But the commission relied on its past standards for job discrimination, without any dissent or criticism from the two new members, in the three latest damage awards, all by 5-0 votes. The following actions were ordered:
- A Sacramento auto parts saleswoman was ordered reinstated and awarded $19,000 in back pay and $50,000 for emotional distress because of sex discrimination that led to her firing, the commission said.
- A Richmond barber was ordered reinstated and awarded $20,000 in back pay and $30,000 for emotional distress because of her firing, which the commission said followed a long period of sexual harassment.
- A Milpitas fireman was awarded $12,000 for emotional distress because of the city's refusal for 16 months to let him serve as an acting fire captain because of a mild hearing loss, which the commission said did not affect his job performance.
The damages will be increased by 10% annual interest.