An LGBTQ liaison for Comcast claims he faced discrimination in the workplace and was passed over for promotions because he did not fit gender norms.
Klayton Fennell, who in 2015 was named as a senior vice president and “Comcast’s key contact with LGBT advocacy organizations,” now alleges he faced significant prejudice inside the media giant’s conservative corporate environment.
In a federal lawsuit, Fennell states he faced bias over 18 years “because of his sexual orientation and because he does not conform to gender-based stereotypes," reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.
While he held the title of senior vice president, Fennell said he learned his pay was not in line with that of peers holding the same job title. When he asked for salary to be in line, human relations officials informed him that senior leadership viewed him as “high-pitched.”
Comcast executives told the Inquirer the company will vigorously defend itself against the claims.
“At no time during Klay Fennell’s long career at Comcast has he been discriminated against or been the subject of wrongful treatment,” reads a statement from Comcast.
Furthermore, the company said Fennell held a position of influence as far as outreach to the LGBTQ community.
“Comcast has a longstanding commitment to the LGBTQ community and has been widely recognized for its inclusive culture,” wrote a company spokesperson. “We also have supported [Fennell] for many years and provided a platform for him to have a positive influence on LGBTQ initiatives both inside the company and in the communities we serve.”
But Fennell’s lawsuit claims he faced discrimination at a number of points in his career, dating back to 2001 when coworkers in Comcast’s Florida office called Fennell by slurs and said he was “too gay and flamboyant” to advance in Compact’s company culture. At one point, he was encouraged to take a demotion and a transfer to San Francisco where he would better fit in.
Nevertheless, Fennell did ultimately rise through corporate ranks, in recent years serving as a spokesman for the company to LGBTQ outlets like the Philadelphia Gay News. In his role as LGBTQ liaison, he has touted the company’s perfect 100 score in 2018 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (the company this year scored a 90).
As recently as February, Fennell represented Comcast at a public event in Nashville with the city’s LGBT Chamber.