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Gay Employee Sues
Costco Again to Retain Job

Gay Employee Sues
Costco Again to Retain Job

A gay employee who successfully sued wholesale giant Costco for allowing a hostile work environment has returned to court, this time to get his job back.

A gay employee who successfully sued wholesale giant Costco for allowing a hostile work environment has returned to court, this time to get his job back.

Juan Valera of Los Angeles is arguing to the L.A. superior court that Costco has failed to rehire him as a photo manager as an act of retaliation to his original suit, according to KABC. On December 3 he was awarded $420,000.

A new general manager, John Weaver, came to the warehouse in Inglewood, Calif., in 2005. Valera had been working at that location for more than two decades.

Weaver had casually used the word "queers" in a statement. Valera took a leave of absence to deal with stress. When he returned to work, he found that his pay was cut and his workload doubled, his attorney Leo Terrell said.

According to the report, Valera was forced to take another leave of absence. When he returned he was demoted to cashier and was eventually stripped of his benefits. The defense argued that Valera lost his benefits under Costco policy because he was gone for six months.

Elaine Ponce replaced Valera in May 2006 as a photo manager. She filmed a mock training video featuring another Costco employee, Kenneth Ellison, mimicking Valera and calling him Auntie Juan. In the video he turned to fellow employee Carlos Taylor and said, "Carlos, I have a dilemma; next Friday is my Auntie Juan's bar mitzvah. He is a transsexual."

According to Costco, Ponce and another employee involved were demoted after the manager was shown the tape.

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