Judge Rules on Unfair Firing
By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com May 02 2012 4:44 PM ET
A federal judge ruled that a Kentucky state agency discriminated against a gay man by firing him after he violated a workplace policy while still employing a female coworker who violated the same rule.
Milton Stroder was fired from his job in 2009 at the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services for referring to other gay men using terms such as "queen" and "princess" in personal emails to his partner. However, coworker Shannon Duncan was not fired for sending her own personal emails, including a chain email to co-workers titled, "Pampered Chef," showing naked men with pots and pans placed over private areas of their bodies, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that the treatment Stroder received was "unfair and unequal." He also noted that Stroder's supervisors expedited his case so he could be fired without a reason or hearing during his initial probationary period of employment. However, in Duncan's case, no such actions were taken to fire her, even though she and Stroder were both in the midst of their probationary period.
Heyburn said that the state agency also enforced its internet patrolling policy disproportionately against gay employees, as four of the first five people found violating the rule were gay.
Currently Kentucky state law does not have workplace antidiscrimination provisions for LGBT employees.