Employer seeks dismissal of gay employee’s sex-bias suit

Employer seeks dismissal of gay employee’s sex-bias suit

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A Whitemarsh nursing and rehabilitation center is seeking the dismissal of a gay man’s federal civil-rights lawsuit, arguing that antigay bias isn’t always a form of anti-sex bias.

“Frank Doe” worked as an activities director at Meadowview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center from May 2015 to September 2016.

Doe filed suit last month, claiming he was mistreated at Meadowview due to anti-sex bias. According to Doe’s suit, he thrived at his job until a new administrator took the reins in February 2016. The administrator allegedly referred to Doe as “Frances,” despite Doe’s repeated requests to stop doing so.

Shortly before the new administrator began working at Meadowview, a colleague warned Doe to “turn down the gay,” because the administrator allegedly is known to be antigay, according to the suit.

In September 2016, the administrator accused Doe of falling asleep during a work meeting and promptly terminated Doe.

Doe denies sleeping during a work meeting and claims the allegation of sleeping was a pretext to discriminate against him. 

Doe is seeking an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages, along with LGBT-inclusive corrective measures at Meadowview. 

On June 8, attorneys for Meadowview filed a 23-page motion seeking the dismissal of Doe’s suit.

They contend that Doe actually complains of antigay bias — not anti-sex bias — and he allegedly failed to pursue remedies for antigay bias in a timely manner.

The attorneys don’t dispute that Doe pursued remedies for anti-sex bias in a timely manner. However, they reiterate that anti-sex bias laws don’t ban antigay bias, which Doe allegedly claims took place. 

According to the filing, there’s no evidence that Doe “was being discriminated against because of the way he looked, acted or spoke,” and he wasn’t a victim of anti-sex bias.

Justin F. Robinette, an attorney for Doe, blasted the filing as an inaccurate depiction of what Doe alleges took place at Meadowview. He vowed to litigate the matter “as long as it takes for justice to prevail.”

“My client clearly suffered from anti-sex bias at Meadowview,” Robinette said. “Antigay bias is always anti-sex bias. Out of an abundance of caution, we included in our lawsuit the antigay aspects of the mistreatment Mr. Doe endured. But that inclusion shouldn’t cancel out the underlying anti-sex bias he endured.” 

Robinette said Meadowview is trying to “exploit” the lack of explicit protection for LGBT employees on the state and federal levels by arguing that antigay bias isn’t covered by anti-sex-bias laws.

“More and more courts are accepting antigay bias to be a form of anti-sex bias,” Robinette said. “Meadowview doesn’t appear to recognize that fact. But we’re hoping a judge and jury will.” 

Robinette added: “This request for dismissal is more evidence of Meadowview’s bias against my client because it seeks to exclude him from protection under existing law simply because he’s gay.” 

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas N. O’Neill Jr., who hadn’t rule on Meadowview’s dismissal request as of presstime. 

Robinette said his client is holding up well. “His education and career paths were sidetracked because of this ordeal. But he’s doing his best to pick up the pieces.”

Attorneys for Meadowview declined to comment for this story. “We have no comment. Thank you,” said Enrico C. Tufano, an attorney for Meadowview, in an email.


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