A federal court gave the go-ahead to a gay man in Tennessee wanting to sue his local union because he claims he was fired from his job as a stagehand at the Country Music Awards due to his sexual orientation.
Initially, a federal court rejected Marty Gilbert's lawsuit, finding no grounds for his case against the Country Music Association, Country Music Television, MTV Networks, and his union, the Associated Press reports. However, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Gilbert's case against Local 46 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees should be heard by the trial court, as the local has a duty to represent all members fairly and without discrimination.
In 2007, Gilbert was hired through the union to work as a stagehand for the awards show. Gilbert filed a complaint against another union worker, who he says used a gay slur against him and threatened to stab him. After the incident, Gilbert said, the local stopped referring him for jobs and intervened in a deal with the Stellar Awards, a gospel music awards show, to rescind his employment in 2009. According to Gilbert, the union used a fabricated letter of complaint against him from CMA and CMT to suspend his membership.
"No doubt, the events Gilbert describes, if true, are at least in bad taste if not themselves deserving of condemnation," the court ruled Tuesday. The court said, however, that because Tennessee lacks laws banning discrimination against LGBT employees, he did not have standing to sue CMA, CMT, or MTV.
Gilbert is seeking lost wages, punitive damages, and reinstatement into the union as well as other relief measures.