NJ targets business that fired lesbian over ‘gaydar’ joke
EATONTOWN — A Monmouth County healthcare billing company is under state investigation over an accusation that it fired a lesbian worker who complained that her supervisor joked about her "gaydar."
The state Division on Civil Rights on Thursday announced a finding of probable cause against Metropolitan Healthcare Billing, meaning that the company's conduct “was sufficiently severe that a reasonable employee [...] could find her work environment hostile or abusive.”
The state said that the supervisor's comment outed the employee and “indicated to staff that the sexual orientation of a client would be a relevant and appropriate topic of inquiry and discussion in the workplace.”
State officials said the account representative complained after a staff meeting in which her supervisor said the woman could use her "gaydar" to determine whether a new client was a lesbian.
The woman complained later, telling her supervisor that she did not appreciate being outed to a new employee who had been in the room.
In an email to her supervisor, she called the comment by the director of business operations “unprofessional,” which made her feel “uncomfortable," the state said.
The state says that during an in-person meeting, the supervisor explained that she believed the comment was OK because the employee had previously joked in the workplace about her sexuality and had used the term "gaydar."
When the employee asked to speak to the company's owner — because the company human resources director was the supervisor's sister — the supervisor fired her on the spot, the state said.
A representative for the company did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Thursday that “it is not acceptable for employers to retaliate against workers who invoke their legal rights and report discriminatory conduct.”
The company continues to face a civil rights complaint but the state's finding this week means that the state has determined that there is enough evidence to support a reasonable suspicion of discrimination.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email email@example.com.