Gay Manager Accuses Nordstrom of Bias
FAIRFIELD, Calif. (CN) - Nordstrom fired a manager for refusing to contribute $250 to the United Way, after he told his bosses he did not want to give because United Way supports "anti-gay groups such as the Boy Scouts," the man claims in court.
Guy Johnson sued Nordstrom in Contra Costa County Court, for discrimination, retaliation, wrongful firing and Labor Code violations.
Johnson had worked for Nordstrom as a salesman since 2007, in Seattle and Dallas, until it promoted him to customer service manager in Walnut Creek, Calif., he says in the complaint.
His bosses there, who did not know his sexual orientation, gave him glowing performance reviews, from which he quotes in the complaint.
But in October 2011, the Walnut Creek store manager Ted Reed called a meeting at which he "passed out contribution sheets and asked each employee to donate $250 or more of his or her wages" to the United Way, the complaint states.
Reed and the human resources manager, who are not named as defendants, collected the donation forms, upon which Johnson wrote, "I choose not to contribute."
The next day, when Reed asked him why he had not ponied up, Johnson says, "Johnson disclosed that he is gay, and told Reed that he did not want to donate his wages to an organization he felt was supportive of anti-gay groups such as the Boy Scouts. Before this, Johnson had not disclosed his sexual orientation."
Reed then "tried to convince Johnson of the merits of the United Way and ended the conversation by telling Johnson that he hoped he was not $250 short of his fund-raising goal," the complaint states.
That led to a series of unfair, retaliatory actions by Reed and human resources, which culminated in his firing on Jan. 12, 2012, Johnson says.
He seeks compensatory and punitive damages and court costs.
He is represented by Sonya Smallets, with Minnis & Smallets, of San Francisco.