A New York man has filed suit against his former employer, alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation. This case is unusual among New York employment discrimination cases because the plaintiff, who is gay, is claiming that his former employer engaged in discrimination by giving hiring preference to gay men. This constitutes discrimination, according to the lawsuit, because the ostensibly supportive work environment actually resulted in a variety of forms of gender discrimination and hostility.
Jamie Ardigo took a job with J. Christopher Capital in November 2011 as a human resources director. The company is owned by J. Christopher Burch, a New York investor/entrepreneur. Within a month of his start date, according to Ardigo’s complaint, Burch declared during a meeting that he only hires gay men. Burch’s stated reasons were that he “trusted them” and found them “productive.” Ardigo alleges that Burch frequently made declarations such as this, and would also state that he prefers to hire only “gay men and beautiful women.” Ardigo says he took personal offense to these statements in addition to his professional concern over maintaining a “non-discriminatory atmosphere.”
Ardigo claims that his direct supervisor, Vice President of HR Edward Welsh, began a campaign of retaliation against him. Welsh allegedly called Ardigo’s work performance, which Ardigo says received high reviews, into question. Ardigo alleges that Welsh and others brought pressure on him to reveal details of his personal life, and that he felt as though he had to reveal information in order to succeed in the company. He says other employees often brought attention to his and others’ sexual orientation in ways he found inappropriate. He complained to management but says they downplayed or ignored his complaints. His supervisor “abruptly” fired him on February 7, 2012, saying he was not fitting in at the company.
Ardigo filed suit in Manhattan’s U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on May 8, 2012, naming the company, Burch, and Welsh as defendants. He alleges two counts based on the New York City Human Rights Law. The company, J. Christopher Capital, the complaint states, engaged in discrimination based on sexual orientation and retaliation, and created a hostile work environment in violation of city law. The individual defendants, Burch and Welsh, aided and abetted the discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation. Ardigo claims damages for lost wages and other benefits, both past and future, as well as “emotional injuries” to be assessed later. He is demanding $1 million in total damages, $500,000 from the company and $500,000 collectively from Burch and Welsh.
New York City’s Human Rights Law offers protections against employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and hostile work environments based on certain protected categories like gender, race, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation. The law offers similar protections to the state law prohibiting employment discrimination. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended over the years, offers employees protection from various types of employment discrimination. For matters related to sexual orientation discrimination, New York City’s law offers the best protections. The New York City Commission on Human Rights monitors and investigates claims of unlawful discrimination or harassment
The New York gender discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent victims of workplace harassment and discrimination, fighting to protect their legal rights. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online, or by calling (212) 248-7431.
Complaint (PDF), Ardigo v. J. Christopher Capital, et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, May 8, 2012 (source)
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