Connect with us

Local

Security guard says company suspended him for being gay

DNC investigating allegation against contractor

Published

on

Robert Miller

Robert Miller claims that CSI Corporation discriminated against him because he’s gay while working as a security guard at the DNC headquarters. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A guard working for a company that provides security services for the Democratic National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill says the company suspended him after another guard learned that he’s gay and expressed reluctance to work with him.

Robert Miller, 32, a D.C. resident, says he’s filing a discrimination complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights against CSI Corporation of D.C., a private contracting firm that provides security guards for many prominent buildings in the city, including the DNC headquarters and the Washington Convention Center.

“I’m a gay man and he says he’s uncomfortable working with me,” Miller said of fellow security guard Julius Crumlin.

Crumlin declined to comment when contacted by the Blade. Officials with the Silver Spring, Md., based CSI Corporation did not return repeated calls.

City records show that CSI Corporation of D.C. listed a D.C. address to obtain certification in 2009 as a small, local business enterprise eligible for special preference for D.C. government contracts.

But the management company for the office building that CSI listed for its address at 7600 Georgia Ave., N.W., told the Blade CSI moved out of the first floor office it rented in that building last month.

A spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development couldn’t be immediately reached to determine whether CSI was in violation of its contract preference status by moving out of the city. The DSLBD regulates the city’s small and minority business contracting preference program, which is restricted to companies whose “principal” location is in D.C.

Miller said he and Crumlin had a cordial working relationship for nearly a year and sometimes had dinner together while on break at the DNC building. He said Crumlin became hostile after discovering in a desk drawer at the DNC building a personal letter that Miller said he wrote to his cousin about his romantic feelings toward another man.

Miller says he thinks Crumlin thought the flowery language he used to describe his feelings in the letter were directed at Crumlin.

“He had no business going through my personal things in that desk drawer,” said Miller. “That letter had nothing to do with him, but he took it the wrong way.”

Crumlin responded by writing his own letter to a CSI Corporation supervisor accusing Miller of sexually harassing him on the job, Miller told the Blade. On Aug. 30, the supervisor called Miller to a meeting at CSI’s office in Silver Spring and confronted him with Crumlin’s complaint.

Miller said he tried his best to explain that Crumlin was not the subject of the letter in question. But he said the supervisor and at least one other CSI official told him the company wanted to investigate the matter. Miller said the supervisor, whom he knows only as Mr. Covington, told him to go home that day and to not return to work until contacted by the company.

“They never called,” Miller said. “I kept calling them but they didn’t answer. They didn’t return my calls.”

After three weeks of not knowing his job status and not being paid, Miller said a company official called him and informed him that he was being transferred to another building on an interim basis while the company continued its investigation into the matter.

Miller’s reinstatement came a short time after the Blade began making calls to the company and to the DNC to inquire about Miller’s status and the circumstances that led to his suspension.

DNC spokesperson Melanie Roussell said the DNC didn’t learn about Miller’s suspension until contacted by the Blade.

“The DNC does not exercise authority over or make hiring, firing or suspension decisions regarding any of the security guards working at DNC facilities, as they are employed by an independent contractor,” Roussell said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, we are taking these allegations very seriously and will do everything within our power to investigate this matter to the fullest extent possible, and resolve it accordingly,” she said. “The DNC has an absolutely resolute policy of commitment to diversity among its staff, and recognizes that our continued success requires the highest commitment to obtaining and retaining a diverse staff that provides the best services to supporters and constituents.”

Roussell added that the DNC is an equal opportunity employer that hires a diverse staff without regard to a wide range factors such as race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Miller said he quickly learned that the pay scale at the building to which he was transferred is lower than what it was at the DNC building. According to Miller, he’s now being paid $11 per hour at the Fairchild Building located across South Capitol Street from the DNC headquarters. He had been paid $16 per hour at the DNC building.

Miller gave the Blade a copy of his hand-written responses on an intake questionnaire he obtained from the D.C. Office of Human Rights, which serves as the first step for filing a discrimination complaint against an employer.

A spokesperson for the OHR said the office uses the questionnaire responses — along with an interview with the person making the complaint — as the basis for determining whether grounds exist for a formal complaint, which the office would then investigate.

The spokesperson, Tonya Gonzalez, said the OHR doesn’t publicly disclose or comment on a complaint unless and until the investigation results in a finding of probable cause that discrimination occurred. She said it could take several months before such a determination is made.

Gonzalez said anyone filing a discrimination complaint is free to publicly disclose the fact that they have filed such a complaint, even though the OHR cannot comment on it or acknowledge that it has been filed.

CSI describes itself on its website as “a minority owned firm, certified as a Local Small Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (LSDBE)” with a pending certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

City records show that the company listed its headquarters in D.C. in an office at a building at 7600 Georgia Ave., N.W. However, a reporter visiting the office building last week found a vacant office suite with the CSI Corporation name on a locked door. A staff member with Capitol Realty Management Group, which manages the office building, said CSI Corporation had just moved out of the building and the office suite was being listed as being available for rent at $2,100 per month.

Miller said he and other security guards he worked with only had dealings with the company’s Silver Spring office, located on the seventh floor of a building at 1320 Fenwick Lane.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. laurelboy2

    October 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Mr. Miller comments “…He had no business going through my personal things in that desk drawer…” And, that’s where he erred. The desk drawer is NOT Mr. Miller’s personal property. The letter should have more properly been in Mr. Miller’s possession at all times. Mr. Miller should have exercised better judgment by not housing the letter in a work/public area, regardless of the intended recipient or how “private” he assumed his possessionis in the desk to be. Another case of errors in personal accountability and judgment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Virginia

Loudoun County removes LGBTQ book from school libraries

Superintendent overrules committee that called for retaining ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir’

Published

on

A Loudoun County, Va., School Board committee on Jan. 13 voted to uphold a decision by Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler to remove from the school system’s high school libraries a controversial LGBTQ-themed book called “Gender Queer: A Memoir.”

The book is an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe that contains descriptions and comic book style drawings of sexual acts that e uses to tell the story of eir journey and struggle in discovering eir gender identity.

Although the book has received an American Library Association award for its relevance to young adults, critics in school systems throughout the country have said its sexually explicit content is not suitable for school libraries.  

The action by the School Board committee came after Ziegler asked a separate school system committee to review the book to determine if its content was appropriate for school libraries. Loudoun Public Schools spokesperson Wayde Byard told the Washington Post the committee, in a split vote, recommended that the book be retained in high school libraries.

According to Byard, Ziegler overruled the committee’s recommendation and ordered that the book be removed from the libraries. Byard said that decision was then appealed to a School Board appeals committee, which voted 3-0 to uphold Ziegler’s decision.

The decision by Ziegler to remove the book from school libraries took place about two months after Fairfax County, Va., Public Schools officials decided to return “Gender Queer” and another LGBTQ-themed book called “Lawn Boy” to their high school libraries after temporarily pulling the two books in response to complaints by some parents and conservative activists.

Two committees appointed by Fairfax school officials to review the two books that consisted of educators, school officials, parents, and students concluded that, while the books contained sexually explicit content, it did not cross the line as pornography or depictions of pedophilia as some opponents claimed.

“The decision reaffirms Fairfax County Public Schools’ ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” a statement released by Fairfax school officials explaining their decision to retain the two books in their libraries said.

“Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

Continue Reading

Local

Va. bill would restrict transgender students access to school bathrooms

State Del. John Avioli (R-Stanton) introduced House Bill 1126

Published

on

The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would restrict the ability of transgender students and school board employees to use bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

House Bill 1126, which state Del. John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced, would require “each school board to adopt policies to require each student and school board employee to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and other changing facilities in public school buildings that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; lodging accommodations during school-sponsored trips that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; and a single-user restroom, locker room, or other changing facility in a public school building, upon request, if the school can reasonably accommodate such a request.”

Avoli introduced HB 1126 on Jan. 12 on the same day the Virginia General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office on Jan. 15.

State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) last month introduced Senate Bill 20, which would eliminate the requirement that school districts must implement the Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who in 2018 became the first openly trans person seated in any state legislature in the U.S., told the Washington Blade last week that she expects SB 20 “would be dead on arrival” in committee.

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, on its website notes HB 1126 is among the bills that it opposes.

Democrats still have a 21-19 majority in the state Senate, and they have signaled they will oppose any effort to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia. Outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck last week said their organization “will work with the Senate’s pro-equality majority to act as a crucial back stop against harmful legislation and efforts to roll back our hard-earned wins passed during the last two years.”

Continue Reading

Local

Equality Virginia announces new executive director

Narissa Rahaman will succeed Vee Lamneck

Published

on

Narissa Rahaman (Photo courtesy of Equality Virginia)

Equality Virginia on Saturday announced Narissa Rahaman will be the organization’s new executive director.

Rahaman, who was previously the Human Rights Campaign’s Associate Regional Campaign Director, will succeed outgoing Executive Director Vee Lamneck on Feb. 2. Rahaman was born in Barbados and raised in Florida.

“Narissa also has 10+ years of experience in long-term strategic planning, multi-state organizing efforts, coalition management, and staff development, which make her an exceptional individual for the role of executive director,” said Equality Virginia in its announcement. “We are confident that under her leadership, the organization’s success and impact will continue to flourish as will our commitment to racial justice.”

Equality Virginia announced Rahaman will succeed Lamneck on the same day that Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office amid concerns he will seek to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia.

Equality Virginia’s annual lobby day will take place virtually on Jan. 25. The organization’s annual Commonwealth Dinner is scheduled to take place in Richmond on March 26.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular