A former employee of a feminist publishing company associated with the City University of New York has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit alleging she was fired for being a lesbian.
Elizabeth Koke, 30, is suing CUNY, the press and its executive director, Jennifer Baumgardner, for $3.5 million. The suit alleges retaliation, wrongful termination and discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In court documents filed Friday provided to The Advocate, Koke wrote that she was fired in 2014 along with two other lesbian employees after bisexual author Baumgardner, 45, took the helm of the press in 2013 and decided along with the board of directors that it was "too lesbian."
At the time she was fired, Koke claims she was the last remaining lesbian staffer.
As part of additional de-lesbianing of the press, Baumgardner made it clear she wanted to publish books with more "mainstream appeal," according to the suit, instead of books like "Therese and Isabel," a lesbian school girl romance.
Koke worked for Feminist Press begining in 2010 and claims in court documents that before she was fired, she was told she was getting a raise.
"During my four years at the Feminist Press, I put my heart into my work and dedicated myself to the organization with respect and care. It's hurtful that I was not given the same in return," Koke said in a statement to the New York Daily News.
"My client's hope is that as a result of this lawsuit, Feminist Press employees will be treated equally and will not have to tolerate discrimination in the workplace or fear being fired simply because of who they are," Koke's lawyer Erica Kagan told the Daily News.
The defendants named in the suit did not provide comments to the paper and declined to comment to other media outlets.