Although local attorneys declined to take the case of an area bank executive fired for his sexual orientation, the ACLU has stepped in to help after seeing the story in Dallas Voice, and the case is now headed to mediation.
Amanda Goad, an ACLU attorney with the LGBT and AIDS Project based in New York, who covers a number of states including Texas, contacted Marty Edwards after our story ran. She believed Edwards, who was fired last year from First National Bank of Granbury, could file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint under the category of sexual discrimination.
She cited an EEOC policy relating to discrimination based on marital status, political affiliation, status as a parent, sexual orientation or gender identity status in federal employment.
“The Commission has also found that claims by lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals alleging sex-stereotyping state a sex discrimination claim under Title VII. See Veretto v. U.S. Postal Service,” the EEOC policy states.
She wrote to Edwards in an email that the decision equates sexual orientation discrimination with sexual discrimination based on the perception of the assumptions of the roles of men.
“Favoring a straight man who has a wife and kids, over a gay man who doesn’t, sounds like a strong example of what they’re talking about,” Goad wrote.
Edwards was fired during a meeting with two other bank executives. One told him, “I don’t care if you are seeing Billy Graham as your counselor,” and the other said, “You obviously have some things messed up in your head.”
“They said it was not my work because I did a great job,” Edwards told Dallas Voice. “I was told that one guy who has three kids, a wife and white picket fence home was a better fit for the image we are looking for.”
Following our article that appeared in January, Edwards filed an EEOC claim based on his firing after seeking counseling. After speaking to Goad, Edwards amended the claim to include sexual discrimination.
He couldn’t file a claim simply on sexual orientation discrimination, because it is legal to fire someone based on sexual orientation under both Texas and federal law.
The bank has agreed to mediation on the counseling claim and they will meet on March 27.
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