A Houston bakery will have to defend itself in court after two separate lawsuits have been filed against it alleging discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ+ employees.
OutSmart reports that Dessert Gallery is being sued separately by Gilbert Johnson, a gay man, and Katherine Phillips, a lesbian, who both claim they were wrongfully fired because they are gay.
According to the suits, Johnson and Phillips were fired from their jobs only one day apart, and that was after both of them had been subject to harassment about their sexuality.
Johnson, who worked as a general manager, says that he received “sexualized commentary from his supervisor’s husband” and that after that, he was treated differently. He also alleges that after he hired a trans woman, he was told he wasn’t allowed to hire any new employees. Both Johnson and Phillips say they were subjected to “offensive remarks” when they defended their trans coworker and other LGBTQ+ people. Johnson says he was “bombarded” with questions about how the trans employee would use the restroom.
Phillips also claims that she was unable to advance within the company because of the discrimination. Johnson had given her a promotion at one point, but she was demoted after just one month, and then fired one month later. Johnson was fired the next day. The suit says the transgender employee was also fired.
Both plaintiffs are represented by local attorney and LGBTQ+ activist Fran Watson, who said there was unlawful bias in both cases. “Even the best companies make mistakes, and the bias has to be minimized because you’re impacting and interacting with a diverse workforce,” Watson said, “Seeing that three LGBTQ people were fired in a month—and two within a day of each other—shows that inherent bias was present. We want the law to remedy that mistake.”
Dessert Gallery issued a statement. “Dessert Gallery has always been committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workforce and our community,” the statement reads. “We have a long history of celebrating Pride and partnering with, as well as supporting, Houston’s LGBTQIA+ community. We take seriously any allegations like those outlined in these complaints but stand firm that these allegations are simply not true. We believe the proper place to disclose the facts of this case is in the courtroom and look forward to that opportunity.”