Colman Domingo
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Tennessee Man Says He Was Subjected to Slurs, Fired for Being Gay

Jacob Brashier

A gay Tennessee man is suing the company that fired him four days after the Supreme Court’s historic ruling that anti-LGBTQ+ job discrimination is illegal.

Jacob Brashier of Blount County “was summarily subjected to disparagement, ridicule, and humiliation in the course of his employment” with a nursing home operated by Manorhouse Management in neighboring Knox County, according to a lawsuit he filed June 30 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

His treatment was “a direct affront” to the Supreme Court’s June 15 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, the suit says. The high court ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity constitutes illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His employer also violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act, the complaint states.

The nursing home hired Brashier as a certified nursing assistant in April. The discriminatory treatment began early in June, with him “being called a ‘faggot’ on several occasions and having a soiled rag thrown in his face,” the suit says. He filed a written report with the company, saying he was experiencing discrimination and was not being properly compensated for working overtime.

Company officials said he was lying about the use of the slur and told him to “forget about it,” according to the suit, and did nothing about the discrimination or the pay complaints. Then the company reduced his hourly wage from $11.50 to $10.50.

He was fired June 19, after another employee sabotaged a patient in his care, he says. The patient had difficulty with bladder control, but one of Brashier’s coworkers gave the patient “copious amounts of water to drink prior to said resident leaving Defendant’s facility for a family visit,” the suit states, so the resident self-urinated during the visit. Brashier was blamed and was fired, he says.

Brashier seeks compensatory damages of at least $500,000 and punitive damages of at least $1.5 million, plus attorneys’ fees and court costs. He is represented by lawyer James W. Friauf and has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel sought comment from Manorhouse Management, but none was forthcoming.

Also in the wake of the Bostock ruling, a discrimination suit against a St. Louis health care company has been revived. In 2016, Mark Horton was offered a sales and marketing job with Midwest Geriatric Management after an executive search firm contacted him and encouraged him to apply. The job offer was withdrawn after Horton revealed he was in a same-sex relationship.

He sued in 2017 in U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, but it dismissed the suit. Represented by Lambda Legal and a local law firm, he appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which put its ruling on hold while awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock. Earlier this month, the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and sent the case back, so Horton will get his day in court.

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