A Lehigh County gay man has filed a federal lawsuit against the United States Postal Service, claiming he was wrongfully terminated from his job due to his sexual orientation and HIV-positive status.
“John Doe,” 55, worked at the Postal Road branch of the USPS in Allentown for about 13 years until he was fired in August 2019. In his 60-page lawsuit, filed Dec. 13, Doe alleges that he experienced a hostile work environment throughout much of his tenure there.
“My client was a devoted, faithful employee and public servant for the USPS for almost 13 years,” said Justin F. Robinette, his attorney.
But according to Doe’s lawsuit, throughout his tenure, he was subjected to harassment and hostility by supervisors and coworkers. For example, he heard two supervisors and a coworker express a desire for him to be fired. In the winter of 2018, another supervisor “bullied Doe harshly by physically grabbing Doe on his forearm in a hard and aggressive manner,” according to the lawsuit.
After Doe’s termination, a sympathetic coworker conveyed to Doe that other coworkers referred to him behind his back as a “sick fa--ot,” “Glinda,” “homo,” “stinky,” and someone who “sucks big d--k.”
Additionally, Doe was hassled by several coworkers for allegedly wearing shorts to work that were “too short” and “too tight.” But Doe was simply wearing the standard USPS uniform shorts, according to the lawsuit.
Doe’s lawsuit asserts he was terminated on the basis that his foot touched a female employee’s leg. She reported it to supervisors and the police were contacted. Doe was charged with harassment, but the charge was dismissed by a judge on Nov. 12, according to the lawsuit.
A sympathetic coworker conveyed to Doe after Doe was terminated that the female whom he allegedly harassed expressed pleasure that the “fruitcake” was fired, according to the lawsuit.
“My client is devastated by this ordeal,” Robinette added. “He’s suffering financially. He earned about $62,000 a year. That’s all been taken from him. He desperately wants to get back to the career and public service that he loved.”
The suit seeks in excess of $150,000 in damages. “We’re mainly seeking reinstatement and back pay,” Robinette added. “We’re confident when jurors hear all the facts they’ll decide in our favor. Our contention is that extreme hate and bias against my client existed at the facility my client was assigned to — and motivated his dismissal.”
The lawsuit also requests a judicial order that the USPS provides LGBT-sensitivity training for all employees at the branch where Doe worked.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Leeson Jr. of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A jury trial has been requested.
A USPS spokesperson issued the following statement: “The Postal Service will not comment on current litigation. That said, it’s important to note that the Postal Service is committed to providing a work environment free of harassment or other inappropriate conduct based upon race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity including transgender status), national origin, age, mental or physical disability, genetic information, uniformed military service (past, present, or future), or in reprisal for an employee or applicant’s complaint about or opposition to discrimination or participation in any process or proceeding designed to remedy discrimination.” n