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Lambda Legal
comes to defense of gay Qwest employee

Lambda Legal
comes to defense of gay Qwest employee

Gay man accuses employer of allowing rampant harassment.

Gay rights advocacy group Lambda Legal announced Tuesday that it is standing behind a Colorado man who has accused his former employer, Qwest Communications, of tolerating rampant antigay harassment, even though the company's policies promise a tolerant workplace for all.

Donald Moreau, a 46-year-old gay man, started working for Qwest in 1999 as a customer service representative and in 2001 was transferred to another department where, he contends, he was called "faggot" by coworkers who left antigay pamphlets on his desk. Moreau complained to Qwest, but he says the company did nothing to stop the malicious treatment. The company has policies that forbid harassment.

"This is a wake-up call for employers; their policies aren't worth the paper they're written on if they're not enforced," said Ken Upton, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal.

After Moreau's complaints to Qwest fell on deaf ears, he went to the Denver Anti-Discrimination Office. The group, which enforces the city's antidiscrimination ordinance, determined Moreau's workplace was hostile and recommended that the work group receive training on sexual orientation harassment. When a year passed and Qwest failed to act on those recommendations, Moreau was forced to leave his job.

"I did everything a good employee is supposed to do--I showed up to work on time, did my job well, and received praise from my supervisors even though I was constantly subjected to extreme verbal attacks by my coworkers," Moreau said. "I acted professionally, and Qwest had policies in place to protect me, but they chose not to."

Lamdba Legal, along with the Center's Legal Initiative Project, is representing Moreau on the case. (The Advocate)

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