SoCal CEO Says He Was Fired for Not Being Gay


     SAN DIEGO (CN) - Stepping Stone, a San Diego rehab center, fired its CEO because he isn't gay, the man claims in court.
     John de Miranda sued Stepping Stone of San Diego and seven members of its board of directors in Superior Court.
     "Stepping Stone's primary mission is to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by providing drug and alcohol addiction recovery services," Miranda says in the complaint.
     He adds: "Stepping Stone and the board of directors terminated his employment because he is not gay, and because of the board's belief that having a president and chief executive who is not gay decreases Stepping Stone's fund-raising opportunities."
     Stepping Stone, a nonprofit, was founded in 1976, Miranda says.
     He says he began working for it as its president and CEO on May 1, 2008.
     He was fired in an Oct. 28, 2012 letter, "without cause and without notice," Miranda says in the complaint.
     He claims the firing "was in bad faith and in reckless, wanton, intentional, or grossly negligent disregard" of his rights, simply "because of his sexual orientation."
     Before the board fired him, Miranda says, they "never counseled plaintiff or informed him that his performance was inadequate in any way."
     He claims their employment agreement allowed either party to terminate the agreement "for cause at any time if the other party materially breaches the agreement."
     But he says he did not breach it, nor did the board accuse of doing so.
     "In fact, it [the letter] states that a cause will only be identified if Mr. de Miranda becomes 'adverse' to Stepping Stone and/or the board of directors, which clearly indicates that no cause was present at the time of termination," the complaint states.
     He seeks compensatory damages for lost earnings, employee benefits and emotional distress, and punitive damages for wrongful termination.
     He is represented by H. Tim Hoffman with Hoffman Libenson Saunders & Barba of Oakland.