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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 28, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 39
Gay union employee sues for discrimination, wrongful termination
Section One
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Gay union employee sues for discrimination, wrongful termination

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Gay office worker in Washington, DC is suing the union that employed him for discrimination and wrongful termination because of his sexual orientation.

Barry Hobson was hired by the Washington Teachers Union (WTU), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), as a receptionist and office assistant in January 2017. He was fired less than a year later - because he is Gay, he charges.

Ironically, the giant AFT union is led by an out Lesbian, Randi Weingarten, often called the most powerful Lesbian in the US.

On its website, the WTU proclaims its dedication 'to social and educational justice for the students of the District of Columbia and to improving the quality of support, resources, compensation, and working conditions for the public servants and proud teachers who educate our students in DC Public Schools.'

Nevertheless, Hobson says, his immediate supervisor, WTU chief of staff Dorothy Egbufor became hostile to him and ultimately got him fired as soon as she found out he is Gay.

Hobson says in the lawsuit that Egbufor learned he is Gay during a phone call on January 31, 2017, while they were discussing his employee benefits.

Egbufor asked who 'Timothy' was, since the name was listed on the benefits documents, and Hobson replied that Timothy was his fiancé (and now husband).

The lawsuit describes the ensuing conversation. '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.'

This incident led to a dispute between Hobson and his supervisor and denial of Hobson's health care benefits.

The lawsuit also contains two emails that Egbufor allegedly sent.

In the first, she reportedly wrote that 'allowing Barry Hobson benefits will without question open the door to many issues down the road. Market data shows a substantial premium/rate increase when allowing the LGBT community to participate in employer-sponsored plans for various reasons.

'AIDS, HIV, and STD statistics are great pricing factors when considering this community and would be a detriment to our regular employees...'

In the second email, Egbufor recommended firing Hobson.

'Barry's nature of resistance and pushback is common among his peers in the homosexual community and will be an ongoing issue for [the] WTU if not addressed,' she wrote.

'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.'

Following this, Egbufor did, in fact, recommend firing Hobson to the WTU board, which accepted her recommendation and terminated Hobson's employment.

In a statement to the Washington Blade, WTU President Elizabeth Davis questioned the authenticity of the emails. She also said the union would hire an outside firm to analyze the emails in question.

Hobson's claims are 'outrageous and totally without merit,' Davis added.

'The Washington Teachers Union has always been, and continues to be, strongly committed to treating all individuals equally regardless of their sexual orientation,' she concluded.

The WTU's General Vice President Jacqueline Pogue-Lyons agreed to write Hobson a recommendation later in his search for a new job.

In the letter, she called Hobson 'a truly valuable asset to any team.' She also described him as 'honest, dependable, and incredibly hard-working' and someone who 'manages to foster positive discussions and bring the best out of other employees.'

Hobson's attorneys filed the lawsuit in US District Court on September 18. Egbufor is named as one of the defendants in the suit. Other defendants include Davis and the union itself.

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