July 07, 2007

Why We Need Workplace Discrimination Protection for GLBT Employees

From the Gay City (New York) News:

Stating that nobody can use their First Amendment religious rights as "a cloak for acts of discrimination or as a justification of practices inconsistent with the protection against invidious discrimination," a state Supreme Court justice has ruled that a "Christian" employer must answer questions about his religious beliefs concerning homosexuality during the discovery phase of a sexual orientation bias case.

According to the June 28 opinion by Justice Carol Robinson Edmead, John Fairchild, a gay man, was hired in May 2005 by Ted Doudak, the president of Long Island City-based Riva Jewelry Manufacturing, Inc., to be vice president of sales and marketing. At the time, Doudak did not know Fairchild's sexual orientation.

According to Fairchild's complaint, Doudak frequently expressed explicitly Bible-based homophobic views in the workplace and directed him to deal with two gay representatives from Tiffany's, because Doudak did not want to have direct contact with them.

When Fairchild picked up a "lesbian magazine" for his daughter who is lesbian, Doudak noticed it on his desk and questioned him about it. Fairchild explained that his daughter is a lesbian and "Mr. Doudak immediately began to denigrate homosexuals and lesbians," according to Edmead's summary of the civil complaint. When Fairchild insisted he is proud of his daughter, Doudak allegedly opened up a Bible and began quoting verses indicating that gays and lesbians are "doomed to eternal damnation."

Doudak fired Fairchild the next day, purportedly for "poor work performance." Fairchild maintains he was an exemplary employee and Doudak had never complained prior to this incident.

If Fairchild's claims come anywhere near representing the truth, and if Doudak does not have Fairchild's "poor work performance" documented out the wazoo, Fairchild has an excellent chance of winning his case.

Fortunately for Fairchild, he worked in a state where Doudak could be held accountable for his bigotry. In many other states across the nation, he would have had no recourse.

This is why there needs to be federal legislation protecting employees from discrimination due to their sexual orientation. It shouldn't be okay to discriminate in Virginia but not okay in New York. Put simply, it's either wrong or it isn't. The right wingers love to hang on to "states rights" because they know there are still many states where this kind of protection would not pass the legislatures.

That still doesn't make it right.

1 comment:

  1. Amen! Preach it, Jim! In New Mexico, I would have plenty of recourse if I was treated this way. Unfortunately, in Virginia, it wouldn't have been the same story. The federal government needs to protect ALL of our citizens.