Communications group face homophobic lawsuit

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A gay man is suing communications company Qwest claiming he was forced out of his job because of homophobic harassment.

Donald Moreau, 46, is being represented by gay law group, Lambda Legal against his former employers who despite having anti discrimination polices, is allegedly not following them appropriately.

“This is a wake-up call for employers: their policies aren’t worth the paper they’re written on if they’re not enforced,” said Ken Upton, senior staff attorney based in Lambda Legal’s south central regional office in Dallas.

“When workers are not abiding by a company’s anti harassment policies, management has to step-up to the plate and make it clear that a harassment-free workplace is part of the core values of the company and take actions accordingly – Qwest Communications did not do this.”

Mr Moreau began working for Qwest in 1999 as a customer service representative. His lawyers claim that in 2001, Qwest transferred him to another department where Mr. Moreau almost immediately began suffering from antigay verbal attacks.

The lawsuit alleges that despite being called “faggot” by his coworkers and receiving antigay pamphlets left on his desk, Mr Moreau received accolades from his supervisors in each of his performance reviews.

“Don Moreau has been patiently working with Qwest over a number of years, hoping that they would do the right thing and walk the walk they put forward in their harassment-free workplace policies,” said John C. Hummel, CLIP legal director. “Employees are entitled to a workplace where they are free to do their job unhindered by extreme hostility.”

Mr Moreau reported the situation to Qwest management who he claims did nothing to stop the harassment or ease the hostile working environment. And complained to Denver’s Anti-Discrimination Office (DADO), the body that enforces the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.

After a fact-finding conference, DADO determined that Mr. Moreau’s workplace was hostile and that the entire work group needed training on sexual orientation harassment.

A year later he left his job after he still felt harassed.

“I did everything a good employee is supposed to do, I showed up to work on time, did my job well and received praise from my supervisors even though I was constantly subjected to extreme verbal attacks by my coworkers,” Mr Moreau said.

“I acted professionally and Qwest had policies in place to protect me, but they chose not to.”

Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs said an agreement had been reached between Mr Moreau and the company.