MDHR Cases

Case File: Mediation Resolves Termination Dispute

A wrongful termination sexual orientation dispute was resolved through the Department of Human Rights' mediation program.

The employee, who we'll call Danny, was surprised when the store manager called him aside, and told him about a customer's complaint. The customer claimed that when she had visited the store with her minor son, she had overheard Danny and a female coworker openly discussing gay sexual acts. Danny denied it, and immediately texted his district manager, repeating his denial and requesting an investigation that he believed would clear him.

There was apparently no investigation, or at least, Danny was never advised of one.

About three weeks later, Danny was fired.

The store manager said she had no choice — the district manager had ordered his termination. What about the coworker with whom Danny had allegedly had his conversation, he asked. Was she going to be fired, too, or even disciplined? The store manager said she couldn't discuss that issue. But Danny eventually learned that the coworker, a straight female, was not disciplined.

In a charge filed with the Department of Human Rights, Danny argued that his sexual orientation was a factor in his termination. He continued to deny the inappropriate conversation, but pointed out that only he was disciplined as a result of the customer's accusation. Yet his coworker, who allegedly engaged in the same behavior, still worked for the store.

The charge was resolved through the Department of Human Rights mediation program. The terms of agreements resolved through mediation are confidential.

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