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Lawsuit: I was
fired for being straight

Lawsuit: I was
fired for being straight

The former director of California's AIDS/LifeCycle fund-raiser has sued two HIV/AIDS nonprofits that put on the ride, claiming they fired him because he is not gay.

Jeffrey Shapiro filed suit Thursday in Los Angeles superior court, alleging sexual orientation discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress by his former employers, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, City News Service reported.

In his lawsuit, Shapiro claims leaders of the two HIV/AIDS groups hired him in March, then met with him in June and fired him, telling him that "everybody liked him as a person, but they needed somebody who better fit into the culture."

When he asked for clarification, he said in court papers, a director of the Los Angeles center told him that "things like this happen and that they made a mistake to think this could work."

AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile cycling event down the California coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles, benefits HIV/AIDS research. The June 2007 ride drew 2,700 participants and generated a record $11 million, according to the event's Web site.

That ride had been managed by longtime AIDS/LifeCycle director Chris Cole, who left last month, according to Jim Key, public affairs director for the Los Angeles center, to Shapiro had been hired before Cole's departure to provide a transition period, Key said.

"It's our policy not to comment on personnel matters, but we can say that the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation never have and never would terminate someone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity," Key told

"In fact, both organizations pride themselves on a diverse work force that includes many straight people, including in the highest levels of management and on the AIDS/LifeCycle team," Key said. These include one of Shapiro's two direct supervisors, the director of development at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Key told

AIDS/LifeCycle's director, who manages "a $11 million operating budget (including revenues) and 20-person staff in San Francisco and Los Angeles," reports to leaders of both nonprofits, AIDS/LifeCycle says on its Web site.

Shapiro seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)

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