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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 11, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 37
Fired for being Gay: Tennessee man sues for discrimination
Section One
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Fired for being Gay: Tennessee man sues for discrimination

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Tennessee man has filed a federal lawsuit against his former employer, charging that he was fired because he is Gay.

James Thompson worked as a staffing coordinator for the Abacus Corporation until June this year, when he was fired. He had no previous issues at work, he said.

'Never been written up, never been put on probation,' Thompson told WSMV-TV in Nashville.

Thompson is suing in federal court because Tennessee state law does not protect LGBT residents against discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled on July 15 that Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all LGBT workers under the section prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex.

This case could be the first court test for the new EEOC interpretation of Title VII.

According to Thompson, a June incident with another employee triggered his firing. The employee launched into a tirade against same-sex marriage in the workplace, Thompson said. When Thompson confronted him, the man cursed at him and stormed out of the building.

Thompson subsequently fired him. A few days later, Abacus VP Bill Lund asked to meet with Thompson to discuss the incident.

'After that meeting he actually asked me if I was gay,' Thompson recalled. 'And the following working day he terminated me.'

Thompson is seeking $400,000 in damages from his former employer. He told reporters he hoped his story would raise awareness about discrimination against LGBT employees in the workplace.

'What I want to see come out of this is for the discrimination to stop,' he said. 'Not just for gays, bisexuals, lesbians, all discrimination.'

Abacus released a statement in response to Thompson's suit.

'It is Abacus Corporation policy not to comment on the facts relating to pending litigation,' the company said. 'Abacus firmly believes Mr. Thompson's allegations are without merit and will be proven to be mere fabrications. Abacus is extremely confident it will be fully exonerated in this matter.'

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