A former employee of a Lowe's home improvement store near New York City says he was subjected to homophobic taunts and verbal harassment, and ultimately fired after he testified in a colleague's discrimination case against the company, according to a federal lawsuit filed last month.
Adam Haimowitz, 32, worked at the Lowe's in Orangeburg, N.Y., for 11 years and regularly filed complaints with the company's human resources department about the antigay harassment he endured, reports the Westchester County Journal News. But those complains never yielded investigations, while the alleged harassment continued.
Haimowitz's lawsuit claims that a female manager called him a "whore," saying the promiscuity of gay men was well-documented. The lawsuit further alleges that a male supervisor asked Haimowitz for oral sex, and that a coworker "joked" that someone might contract AIDS when Haimowitz inadvertently cut his finger.
"They got a kick out of it," Haimowitz told the Journal News. "I guess they got pleasure out of it."
Ultimately, the lawsuit contends, Haimowitz was fired for trumped-up reasons that only became formal complaints in the months after his 2012 testimony in support of a gay colleague who sued the company for "sex-based harassment." The Journal News reports that lawsuit, filed by Edward Marse, was settled in April 2014, under an agreement that Marse would not discuss the terms of the settlement.
Prior to the settlement, Haimowitz told the Journal News he had not been written up for an infraction at work in four years. But a month after Marse reached his settlement, Haimowitz claims, he was written up twice, for a "time and attendance infraction" and for "using strong language on the floor," according to the paper.
The lawsuit contends that four months later, Haimowitz was terminated under the "pretext of 'making inappropriate comments on the floor.'"
A spokeswoman for Lowe's declined comment to the Journal News, though the company has long had a rough relationship with the LGBT community. Lowe's received a score of 30 (out of a possible 100) on the Human Rights Campaign's latest Corporate Equality Index, which notes that the company's nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation and gender identity, but Lowe's does not offer equal spousal benefits to same-sex couples, nor does it offer trans-inclusive health care coverage, LGBT cultural competency training, or LGBT employee groups.