AIDS fundraiser claims he was sacked for not being gay
In a major twist to a discrimination case, former executive director of AIDS/LifeCycle charity filed suit in a Los Angeles courthouse against two nonprofit organisations alleging that he was fired from his position because he was not gay.
The L.A. Gay Lesbian Centre and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation are both implicated in the alleged discrimination case.
Jeffrey Shapiro was hired earlier this year to help organise the 2007 AIDS/Lifecycle event.
The event, which just celebrated its fifth year, is a 545-mile cycling excursion down the California coastline from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Proceeds and donations from the event go to raise money for AIDS and HIV research.
This year a reported 2,700 participants raised a record $11 million (£5.5m), three million more that last year.
Shapiro played a role in making the event a success and seemed very shocked by the decision to terminate him.
In the lawsuit, Shapiro claims that leaders from both nonprofit organisations held a meeting with him and fired him saying “everybody liked him as a person, but they needed somebody who better fit into the culture.”
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He was further told that they had “made a mistake” thinking that the hiring could work. He was given two weeks pay, and his position was terminated immediately.
Shapiro’s suit against the two organisations alleges sexual orientation discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and he is seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the two groups along with an injunction preventing them from participating in further discriminatory practices.
Jim Key, the public affairs director for the Los Angeles centre, told Gay.com:
“The L.A. Gay Lesbian Centre and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation never have and never would terminate someone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Both organisations have refused further comment, but have assured media that they have a diverse staff that consists of both straight and gay members.
Dylan Vox © 2007 GaySports.com; All Rights Reserved.