Gay bakery manager fired after hiring a trans employee and promoting a lesbian. They were both sacked soon after
Dessert Gallery, a bakery and cafe, is being sued separately by Gilbert Johnson, a gay man, and Katherine Phillips, a lesbian woman, for alleged LGBT+ discrimination and harassment – claims it denies.
OutSmart magazine reported that the two employees – who were fired just one day apart – both allege they were dismissed because of their sexual orientation. Both say they were subjected to “offensive” remarks when they defended a trans co-worker and other LGBT+ people.
Johnson, who worked as a general manager, says he received “sexualised commentary” from his supervisor’s husband, who also worked for the bakery. He also claims that he was no longer allowed to hire employees after his supervisor discovered the gender identity of a new trans employee, and was “bombarded with questions” about how they would access the restroom.
Phillips alleges she received harassing comments from other employees about her sexuality and claims that discriminatory practices impacted her ability to be promoted.
Johnson, who managed Phillips, promoted her to shift lead, but she was demoted after one month in the new role. She says she was fired a month after she was demoted for allegedly telling coworkers they were going to be written up. Phillips denies this happened.
Johnson was fired the following day. According to OutSmart, he was told that he did not complete assigned tasks, but he says this is untrue.
Both complaints also state the trans employee who Johnson had hired was fired as well. But no suit has been filed on behalf of the worker yet.
Both Johnson and Phillips are being represented by attorney and LGBT+ activist Fran Watson. Watson told OutSmart that the group wants to “bring to light” that there was “unlawful bias with both of these cases”.
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“Even the best companies make mistakes, and the bias has to be minimised because you’re impacting and interacting with a diverse workforce,” Watson said.
She added: “Seeing that three LGBTQ people were fired in a month – and two within a day of each other – shows that inherent bias was present.
“We want the law to remedy that mistake.”
In a statement, Dessert Gallery said it is “committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workforce and our community”, adding it has a “long history” of celebrating Pride and partnering with the local LGBT+ community.
It said: “We take seriously any allegations like those outlined in these complaints but stand firm that these allegations are simply not true.
“We believe the proper place to disclose the facts of this case is in the courtroom and look forward to that opportunity.”