November 9, 2017 at 7:18 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay man files complaint against Washington Teachers Union

Gay Maryland resident Barry Hobson earlier this year filed a complaint with the D.C. Office of Human Rights charging the D.C.-based Washington Teachers Union with violating the city’s Human Rights Act by firing him based on his sexual orientation, gender and age.

Hobson released a copy of his complaint to the Washington Blade on Monday.

His complaint says he was subjected to what he believes was unfair and discriminatory treatment and harassment by the union’s chief of staff shortly after he was hired as a receptionist/office assistant on Jan. 15, 2017.

“I began to experience harassment by respondent’s chief of staff (Ms. Egbufor) approximately ten days after submitting my new-hire paperwork, which clearly indicated I am in a same-sex relationship,” he states in the complaint. “Ms. Egbufor abruptly ended a phone call when I told her the male listed on my paperwork is my finance,” the complaint says.

It says Egbufor falsely accused him of failing to do his job and of repeatedly showing up late for work among other alleged infractions that Hobson said were completely fabricated by Egbufor, whom at least two fellow employees told him dislikes gay people, the complaint says.

It also says Washington Teachers Union President Elizabeth Davis persuaded the union’s board to fire him on April 3 on grounds of “attendance and punctuality” while allowing a female employee with a newborn child to start work later to avoid being late for work so she could drop off her child at a daycare center. This constitutes sex discrimination, Hobson says in his complaint.

His complaint says he learned that an older employee said to be 62 years old was allowed to keep his job after allegedly making personal purchases with the union’s corporate credit card. When Hobson asked why this employee was allowed to keep his job while Hobson was about to be fired, Davis explained that the older employee “needs more guidance than [you] youngsters,” Hobson’s complaint says, prompting Hobson to accuse the union of discriminating against him because of his age.

Larry Rubin, the Washington Teachers Union’s communications director, told the Blade on Tuesday he and union officials consider Hobson’s complaint baseless, “ridiculous” and “laughable.”

He referred the Blade to the union’s attorney, Lee W. Jackson, for further information on why the union feels the complaint has no merit. Jackson couldn’t immediately be reached.

An Oct. 10 notice that Office of Human Rights Director Monica Palacio sent to the union, which Hobson released to the Blade, says the union was required to submit to the OHR its official response to Hobson’s complaint by Oct. 30. The notice also says Hobson and a union official were required to attend a mandatory mediation session on Nov. 2 to determine whether a settlement agreement could be reached.

Hobson said the mediation failed and OHR has begun a formal investigation into the complaint. Under OHR procedures the investigation, which could take several months to complete, would determine whether probable cause exists that discrimination occurred. If that finding is reached, another mediation session would be held to determine whether a settled could be reached. The case would go to a public evidentiary hearing similar to a trial if a settlement could not be reached.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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