Mexico: Coca-Cola Looses The Appeal. Discrimination Case Against A Gay Executive Will Move Ahead

RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM DISCRIMINATION
RIGHT TO JUST AND FAVOURABLE CONDITIONS OF WORK
RIGHT TO ADEQUATE REMEDY

Summary

On January 2, 2006 the judge presiding over Mexico City’s 30th Civil Court stated that the claim submitted by Roberto Mendoza Ralph against Coca-Cola FEMSA for moral damage was not to be dismissed. Coca-Cola had attempted to argue that since Mendoza Ralph resigned and had been paid the wages due to him, the matter was settled. However, the judge ruled that the civil trial was not about “labor rights but the moral damage the plaintiff claims to have suffered due to the defendants’ discriminatory behavior.”

Roberto Mendoza Ralph was forced to resign from his executive position at the Company in October 2004, for being gay (See IGLHRC’s December 16 Action Alert for a full narrative of this case)

ACTION

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BACKGROUND

Roberto Mendoza Ralph is suing Coca Cola in civil and penal actions. In the former, the company had claimed that the trial was inadmissible, as the matter had been settled when Mendoza Ralph resigned and was paid what was due to him.

On October 7, 2005, Mendoza Ralph started a penal action against Coca Cola, invoking the antidiscriminatory provisions in the Mexico City Penal Code (Article 206 explicitly mentions sexual orientation as a protected category). Mendoza Ralph sought the assistance of the National Council to Prevent Discrimination where he was provided with support and advised of his right to sue the company. His lawyers consider that the civil judge’s stance will have a positive impact on the penal process.

After being unemployed since the date of his forced resignation, Mendoza Ralph was hired by a computer company two months ago and now earns half of the salary he was earning at Coca Cola.

International Human Rights Obligations

Right to be free from discrimination and to equality before the law: Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Articles 2 and 7), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 2), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 2 and 26) and Interamerican Human Rights Convention (Articles 1 and 24).

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Right to Just and Favorable Conditions of Work: UDHR (Article 23), PIDESC (Articles 6 and 7) and IAHRC (Article 15).

Right to Effective Remedy/Compensation: UDHR (Article 8) and IAHRC (Article 10)

Mexican Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination forbids discrimination based on “sexual preferences” on Article 4. Mexico City Penal Code also forbids it in Article 206. Mexico has ratified the ICCPR and ICESCR on March 23, 1981, and the IAHRC on April 3, 1982. The UDHR is considered part of customary international law, and binding on all member States of the United Nations, like Mexico.


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