A Washington D.C. man is suing the Washington Teachers’ Union after suffering discrimination and ultimately being fired because he’s gay.
According to PR Newswire, Barry Hobson, a 36-year-old Upper Marlboro resident who worked as a receptionist and office assistant, has filed a federal lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Hobson is saying that his rights under the D.C. Human Rights Act were violated. He claims that the former Chief of Staff expressed disgusting views about him due to his sexuality. In addition, he says the President did nothing to stop the Chief of Staff and supported his firing.
Even though the organization presides over 5,000 teachers in D.C.’s public schools, the union’s leaders have little diversity training concerning LGBTQ employees. Hobson says he dealt with “hostile and retaliatory actions” while on the job.
The filed complaint included documentation of emails from Dorothy Egbufor, the former Chief of Staff. After Hobson “confirmed he engaged in same-sex intimacy,” Egbufor became nasty and refused him access to the organization’s health plan.
“Never in WTU's past have we allowed any individual to participate on our group policy 'openly gay' and I don't think this should be an exception," she wrote.
She later wrote in the same email that having Hobson and LGBTQ employees on the union's medical plan would cause a "substantial premium/rate increase" for other members because LGBTQ people "have AIDS, HIV and STDs."
According to the Washington Blade, the lawsuit also includes the following section explaining an interaction Egbufor and Hobson had after he applied for company benefits.
“Shortly after he submitted his paperwork, on or about January 31, 2017, Plaintiff had a disturbing phone call with Defendant Egbufor that she initiated about Plaintiff’s benefits,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Egbufor said that she saw ‘Timothy’ listed on the benefits documents. Defendant Egbufor then asked, ‘Exactly who is he to you?’ Plaintiff responded ‘my fiancé,’” the lawsuit says.
“Prior to abruptly hanging up on Plaintiff, Defendant Egbufor said in a tone of disgust with a raised voice, ‘Your fiancé, ok Barry goodbye.’ Then she immediately hung up,” the lawsuit says.
Another attached email also showed that Egbufor wrote:
"Barry's nature of resistance and pushback is common among his peers in the homosexual community and will be an ongoing issue for WTU if not addressed while we maintain authority within the probationary period of employment. As a result, I plan to recommend termination and immediately begin reassigning the remainder of his job duties to various staff in the coming days."
"What happened to Mr. Hobson was just plain awful,” said Brian J. Markovitz. “President Davis should resign immediately. The head of the union that represents the teachers who teach our children and shape their values should not condone treating people poorly at work because of who they love. That's not how people in the DC area want the world to be."
Now, Hobson is looking for $1 million in damages from the union and it’s leaders. According to the filed complaint, Hobson suffered through anxiety symptoms, chest pains, bad sleep, weight loss, breathing problems, and panic attacks because of the discrimination.
h/t: PR Newswire, The Washington Blade