An assisted living facilities management company is being sued for $2 million by a former employee who alleges he was fired due to his sexual orientation. The lawsuit is one of the first to be filed after the June 15 Supreme Court’s landmark ruling barring employers from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Jacob Brashier, a certified nursing assistant, claims he was fired by Manorhouse Management in Knox County, Tennessee, four days following the high court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County regarding Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His case was filed June 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
The complaint alleges that Manorhouse also violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Tennessee Human Rights Act. Brashier’s attorney also filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Manorhouse Management Chief Operating Officer Jim Bonnell said the company could not comment on the details of the allegations, on the advice of counsel, but called the lawsuit “absolutely baseless” and said that the company looks forward to “our opportunity to refute Mr. Brashier’s false claims in a court of law.”
“The reality is that we adopted a policy against sexual orientation discrimination long before such a policy was required by law. The reality is also that we have always welcomed any caring, talented and dedicated employee regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, color, religion, age or other protected class; things like that are irrelevant to us,” Bonnell told McKnight’s Senior Living. “Our goal is simply to hire the best employees possible to provide the best care possible to our residents.
“Unfortunately, we occasionally have to let employees go when they do not sufficiently honor our passionate commitment to provide outstanding care to our residents,” he continued. “We are saddened by Mr. Brashier’s attempt to hide his own work performance issues behind claims of discrimination when the truth is that his termination had absolutely nothing to do with his sexual orientation.”
Brashier alleges he was subject to “disparagement, ridicule and humiliation” by his supervisors, including having a “soiled rag thrown in his face” and being called a derogatory term on several occasions.
After he filed a complaint about the harassment and saying he was denied overtime pay, he alleged, his employer accused him of lying, cut his pay, told him to “forget about it” and eventually fired him on June 19, citing a failure to “properly administer medical care” to a resident.
The lawsuit maintains that Brashier’s employment termination and pay cut were in retaliation for filing a complaint with his employer. The suit also says Brashier is hoping to “advance the rights of his fellow LGBTQ community members who have been historically and unlawfully marginalized and oppressed for generations.”