Lesbian Called “Too Butch” To Handle Customers Sues Employer for Anti-LGBT Discrimination

For 15 years, Penelope Hudson (below) worked for Park Community Credit Union in both Louisville (Kentucky) and Southern Indiana. But for all that loyalty and several positive performance reviews, Hudson was fired last year. Why? According to a lawsuit filed on Friday, Hudson believes she was let go for being a lesbian.

PenelopeH

That’s a strong claim, but the evidence in support of her theory is un-freaking-believable. Here’s a short list of what she says she had to deal with over the years…

  • She was “told to change her appearance as she was ‘too butch’ to deal with customers.”
  • After being harassed by a man at an event paid for by the company, the Vice President of Human Resources told her, “if the gay thing doesn’t work out, you can also go the other way.”
  • She requested and was given time off, via the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), for in vitro fertilization treatments… but when she was asked by one of her employers what she needed time off for, and she responded by saying it wasn’t that person’s business, she was told “they needed to [ensure] it wasn’t something related to her being gay.”
  • A supervisor who often asked employees to “pray for good numbers” also said on more than one occasion that Hudson “doesn’t believe in God since she is gay.”

Beyond that, Hudson says her complaints about these problems went nowhere, that she was repeatedly passed over for promotions, that other employees who did the same things she did (good and bad) weren’t treated the same way, and that her supervisors frequently discussed her sexual orientation when she wasn’t in the room.

The credit union’s CEO, Jim Spradlin, said the company “vehemently denies the allegations made against us and will defend our position through all legal means.”

Shannon Fauver, the attorney representing Hudson, was one of the lawyers whose cases helped make marriage equality legal in Kentucky, so at least Hudson’s claims are being taken seriously.

Kentucky doesn’t have a law preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, so Hudson’s case is taking a different approach, says the group Freedom For All Americans:

Penelope’s case is being filed citing claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including sex discrimination like gender stereotyping and sexual orientation discrimination, as well as the local non-discrimination LGBT ordinance in Louisville, Kentucky.

There’s reason to be optimistic about that approach. Just last month, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin) ruled that discriminating against people on the basis of their sexual orientation violated the Civil Rights Act.

That sound you hear is Christian legal groups and Todd Starnes twiddling their thumbs as they pretend none of this ever happened.

(via The New Civil Rights Movement)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.