Missouri man James Pittman testified that he suffered through seven years of anti-gay workplace harassment before ultimately getting fired for being gay.
Unfortunately, he’ll be unable to sue for discrimination, according to a 2-1 decision made by the Western District Missouri Court of Appeals.
According to testimony, Pittman was called a “c**ksucker” and asked if he had AIDS by Cook Paper president Joe Jurden. When he broke up with his partner, Pittman claims employees treated him “more harshly than a male who was getting a divorce from his female wife” and “caused the workplace to be an objectively hostile and abusive environment based on sexual preference.”
The court ruled that the state law barring discrimination based on sex only applies to gender-based actions — not one’s sexuality.
Pittman’s lawsuit against Cook Paper Recycling Corp. was dismissed in February 2013, and he’d appealed that initial decision.
“If the Missouri legislature had desired to include sexual orientation in the Missouri Human Rights Act’s protections, it would have done so,” wrote Chief Judge James Welch. “No matter how compelling Pittman’s argument may be and no matter how sympathetic this court or the trial court may be to Pittman’s situation, we are bound by the state of the law as it currently exists.”
Currently, Missouri law bars employment discrimination based on one’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age or disability.
Lynne Bratcher, Pittman’s attorney, stated that she’ll try to get the Missouri Supreme Court to hear the case.
“This is just a really good example that discrimination exists against LGBT folks and updating the Missouri statute is so vital,” said Steph Perkins, interim director of PROMO.
In a prepared statement, Sarah Rossi, director of advocacy and policy at the ACLU, had this to say:
“Today the Missouri Court of Appeals made two things very clear: Missourians are being harassed, bullied, and fired from their jobs for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual and they will have no recourse in the courts unless the state legislature changes the Missouri Human Rights Act to protect them.”
Missouri is one of 28 states that still doesn’t offer any kind of employment discrimination protection to LGBTQ people.
h/t: Columbia Tribune