News Briefing July 17-24, 2015

News Briefing July 17-24, 2015

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Settlement talks extended in cop case

Settlement talks have been extended until the fall in the workplace-bias case of N. Melville Jones, an openly gay Philadelphia police officer.

Jones filed suit against the city in 2013, seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages.

The officer claims that a supervisor outed him throughout the police department, triggering pervasive harassment and discrimination against him.

A jury trial originally was scheduled to begin this month if the case couldn’t be settled.

But this week, Gerald J. Pomerantz, an attorney for Jones, said settlement talks have been extended until the fall.

“A date certain [for trial] will be provided unless a settlement is reached,” Pomerantz said in an email.

City attorneys had no comment for this update.

Hearing set in trans case

A status conference is slated for later this month in the antibias lawsuit of Kate Lynn Blatt.

Blatt, a Pottsville trans woman, is suing Cabela’s Retail Inc. for job discrimination.

She claims Cabela’s discriminated against her on the basis of her disability — gender dysphoria — by denying her access to a female restroom. Part of Blatt’s lawsuit challenges the Americans with Disabilities Act’s exclusion of gender-identity disorder as a protected disability.

Blatt contends Congress acted unconstitutionally in 1989 when excluding GID as a protected disability under the ADA.

U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Leeson Jr. has scheduled a status conference for 3:30 p.m. July 22 in Courtroom C of the Edward N. Cahn Courthouse in Allentown.

Cabela’s is located in Hamburg and specializes in outdoor sports items. Blatt worked there as a seasonal stocker between September 2006 and March 2007.

The ADA protects people with disabilities from discrimination in private employment, public accommodations and governmental services.

Alleged rape victim seeks transfer of lawsuit

Reginald Stewart, a University of Pennsylvania graduate who claims he was raped by his former roommate, has asked a federal judge to remand his case back to state court.

Stewart alleges he was raped by Charles Gibson in 2013, after the men attended a rush party sponsored by Phi Kappa Psi, a Penn fraternity.

Stewart recently filed a civil suit against Gibson and the fraternity in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, seeking $450,000 in damages.

Attorneys for Gibson contend that federal court is the proper venue for the case, but attorneys for Stewart dispute that contention.

In a 40-page motion filed last month, Stewart’s attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez to remand the case back to Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

Sanchez hadn’t ruled on the request by presstime.

In court papers, Gibson acknowledged that both men consumed alcohol at the frat party. But he said their subsequent sexual activities were consensual.

A jury trial isn’t expected until August 2016.

Law project to hold fundraiser

The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania will hold its annual summer-party fundraiser on July 31, featuring the 1960s film classic “Hot Rods to Hell.”

A pre-film party with food and drinks begins at 6 p.m. The film begins at 7:30 p.m.

The event will be held at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.

“This year marks our 16th-annual summer movie party,” said Ronda B. Goldfein, executive director of the law project. “This party is always a summer highlight, because everyone knows that on a hot night, nothing is better than a cold drink and a cool film.”

An after-film discussion will follow, featuring film experts Irv Slifkin, author of “Filmadelphia” and “Groovy Movies,” and Richard Barrios, author of “Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter.”

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased by calling 215-587-9377 or going to

— Timothy Cwiek

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