Man Says Mayor’s Nosy Staffer Harassed Him

           PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A former assistant to Portland’s mayor claims in Federal Court the mayor’s chief of staff opened a drawer where he kept his HIV medicine and shut him out when she discovered his disability.
     The former executive assistant sued the city of Portland and Gail Shibley, former chief of staff for nonparty Mayor Charlie Hales, demanding $350,000 in damages for employment and disability discrimination and retaliation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Courthouse News has opted not to use plaintiff’s name due to the sensitive nature of his complaint.
     He started working as an executive assistant for Hales in January 2013, according to the complaint. Shibley was his direct boss.
     Shortly after the assistant started his new job, he says Shibley asked him why he had an “honored citizen” bus pass. Such passes are given to riders who are 65 or older, are on Medicare or have mental or physical disabilities.
     According to the suit, Shibley observed that plaintiff was not old enough to qualify for the pass based on his age and demanded to know why he had one. The plaintiff says he told Shibley that he had a physical disability, but that it was not work-related and that Shibley had no reason to require him to explain further.
     Days later, plaintiff’s co-worker, nonparty Rachel Wiggins, started asking plaintiff about his honored citizen bus pass, the lawsuit states. Wiggins allegedly pressured plaintiff on a daily basis to reveal the specifics of his disability.
     After seven months of daily harassment, plaintiff says Wiggins finally pushed him into describing his disability.
     The plaintiff says he complained to Shibley about Wiggins’ harassment, but Shibley claimed that there was no way that Wiggins would be so insensitive to him since she had previously worked with another person who had the same disability.
     Shibley then revealed the name of that person, plaintiff says.
     And Shibley then told plaintiff that it was his fault that his co-workers were asking questions about his disability since he had opened that can of worms himself by hosting a party for his co-workers, the lawsuit says.
     Shibley went on to tell plaintiff that at the party she and Wiggins had pawed through his medicine cabinet until they found medication which revealed that plaintiff is HIV-positive, the lawsuit says.
     Immediately after that, plaintiff says Shibley adopted a “hostile” attitude toward him. She handed most of his job duties over to Wiggins, restricted his leave time and started excluding him from meetings about policy formation, the lawsuit states.
     Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries in January 2014, accusing Shibley of pressuring him into revealing his HIV-positive status.
     In the BOLI complaint, plaintiff says Shibley called him a “skank” and said former Mayor Sam Adams, an openly gay man and the person who hired plaintiff, was also a “skank.”
     Shibley became the first openly lesbian member of the Oregon House of Representatives in 1991. She left the mayor’s office in July.
     The plaintiff is represented by Andrew Teitelman of Milwaukie, Ore. Teitelman did not respond to requests for comment.
     Hales’ spokesman Dana Haynes said the mayor’s office could not comment on pending litigation.
     CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article inaccurately described the plaintiff as having been fired. The plaintiff no longer works for the mayor’s office but does not allege a firing. Courthouse News regrets the error.

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