Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Bait and Switch? Gay exec recruited to small NE town, then axed after abuse by coworkers, townspeople

Lila Shapiro of the Huffington Post relates the economic devastation of a Massachusetts retail product manager who was recruited by "an outdoor sporting-goods company" hq'd in a small Nebraska town.
     In February 2012, Paul, who is 59 years old and asked that his real name be withheld out of fear that using it would further damage his career, got an attractive and lucrative offer from an outdoor sporting-goods company for a job in product development and sourcing, a field he has been in for about 30 years...
     There was just one hitch. The job meant that he, his husband Peter and their teenage son James, who also asked that their real names be withheld, would have to leave Massachusetts and move to a small town in Nebraska, a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage and has no laws that restrict employers from firing an employee just because he is gay.
     Paul did not hide his sexual orientation in the interviewing process...
     The recruiter was not troubled by this revelation, Paul said. He told Paul that "we are a very affirming company."
     ...The problems began soon after they moved in. First, the company denied health insurance to Peter after initially promising to take care of him. Then there were the homophobic jokes in meetings -- and the company's indifference to Paul's complaints. Someone began sending Paul anonymous emails at his company address, daring him to step out into the parking lot. Finally, the company decided to do something about it. His boss called Paul into his office and fired him.
     The piece says Paul, whose family includes a husband and son, is now out $124,000 or 70% of their liquid savings, having been compelled to sell their property quickly, at a steep loss and having had to abandon Peter's spouse's antique/art shop in town
     ....Colleagues at the sporting goods company made snide jokes about what gays did on camping trips. Paul mentioned an incident where one of his son's football teammates announced in front of the other players that James had two dads. Paul recalled what his son said then: "Yeah, I have two dads, that's common in Massachusetts." "Well, it's not common here," the teammate replied.
     One day, after losing his job, Paul heard from the company's lawyer, who asked him the same question that his boss had already raised. "'What did you think was going to happen in this community?'" Paul recalls the lawyer saying. "'We're a Republican town, we're a conservative town and we're a Christian town.'"
The piece didn't name the firm in question, but apparently did not need to as hundreds of commenters on the HuffingtonPost story seem to have had no trouble deciding who the sporting goods retailer is:

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