Lesbian investment banker files bias lawsuit

BY Advocate.com Editors

November 02 2002 1:00 AM ET

A former senior vice president at a large Manhattan investment company has filed a multimillion-dollar federal discrimination suit against the firm, claiming she was fired for being gay, according to the New York Post.

Jeanine Presa, 35, of Kew Gardens, Queens, said she was terminated from her $200,000-plus head-of-operations job at ABP Investments without being given a reason last April after she revealed during a lunch with her boss, who had pressured her for details of her romantic life for the 2 1/2 years she was with the company, that she was in a lesbian relationship.

During the lunch Presa's boss, after telling her she deserved a raise and was a valued employee, grilled her about whom she was living with, Presa said. He finally asked, "Are you with a woman?" Presa said she nodded her head and replied, "You answer it--you figure it out." She said her boss "made facial expressions of being shocked" and questioned her about her girlfriend several times later that day.

Presa said that after her boss returned from a business trip, she was summoned to a meeting and fired without reason. She was given a few minutes to clean out her desk and escorted from the building. She claims the execs of the firm admitted it was about her personal behavior, not her work. "I couldn't believe it," said Presa. "My boss terminated me because I am gay." She added that prior to her acknowledgment, she had had to perform "a masquerade of being a different individual because I was afraid" of just such a reaction.

"What they did to her is really disgraceful," said Rick Ostrow, Presa's lawyer. "It really is pathetic that an employer...would fire someone who is performing well just because they are gay. It's bad business, and it's just not right."

Bruce Hood, a lawyer for ABP, said Presa "was fired for cause" and that "her sexual orientation had absolutely nothing to do with the decision the company made."

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