After working as an IT contractor for AT&T in San Antonio, and enduring his coworkers' derogatory comments about LGBT people, transgender man Matthew Hileman finally had enough after he found a sign with an antigay slur placed on his chair.
In January, he sought to be reassigned in his position at San Antonio's Resources Global Professionals, and filed a formal complaint against AT&T, which had contracted RGP's services, according to San Antonio's KSAT.
The next week, Hileman was fired.
On Monday, after mediation between Hileman and the telecommunications company reached an impasse, A&T officially denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement to the city attorney's office, an A&T spokesperson said that the company conducted its own internal investigation, including interviewing the two employees Hileman accused. Those employees denied making any offensive or threatening remarks, and also denied any involvement with the antigay sign Hileman found on his desk chair, according to AT&T.
The company also rejected the authenticity of Hileman's recording, while simultaneously shifting blame onto the former employee. In responding to Hileman's discrimination complaint, AT&T filed an objection with the Texas Attorney General's office about the validity of the audio, since the two men's conversation was recorded without their consent, reports the San Antonio Current.
Hileman's recordings, allegedly taken in early September 2013, capture two men discussing the nondiscrimination ordinance that was scheduled for a City Council vote the following day. In it, they make demeaning comments about transgender men's bodies, saying, "It would just be looking more like man boobs, kind of like some fat dude."
The two men also speculate on the penalties for committing a hate crime. One says, "But even if they get beat up, it won't last for long, because that will fall under the gay crime…those are serious." One later adds that a trans man in the men's restroom would receive an "ass-whooping."
Hileman told the Current that he rejected financial offers made within mediation to withhold releasing the audio. "I don't want hush money," he explained. "I can't have hush money." Hileman released the recording to the Current earlier this month.
Hileman contends that he complained to a supervisor after hearing his former colleagues' conversation, who then told a manager. The manager then reportedly outed Hileman as trans to one of the threatening coworkers. Hileman says he then feared for his safety.
After going on to file a complaint with AT&T's human resources department, Hileman reports he found a sign placed on his chair. On it was written the word "Fag," circled and crossed out (akin to a "No Smoking" sign). Interpreting the sign as a direct threat, Hileman left his work premises and says he turned the note over to his supervisors, who later misplaced it.
Hileman is now asking his former coworkers to go on-record and state what happened, notes KSAT. Despite their denials, Hileman is undeterred.
"I've gone through a lot of stuff with this," Hileman told the news station. "And at this point, I'm not going to let it go."
A hearing for Hileman's deposition has been scheduled for October.