News :: Workplace

Did Home Depot Discriminate Against Older Gay Employees?

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Oct 8, 2013
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A Home Depot department store.
A Home Depot department store.  (Source:AP Photo)

A former Home Depot employee filed a $100,000 lawsuit in California against the home improvement retail chain, claiming the company fired gay male employees during the 2008 financial collapse in order to save money, the New York Daily News reports.

In the lawsuit, Lex Housh, who is openly gay and a former manager at a San Diego store, says Home Depot’s officials tried to get rid of older, gay employees because they were worried they "would pay more medical benefits associated with HIV and AIDS viruses," Housh, who was 57 when he was fired, says in the lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court last week.

"Also, Home Depot was concerned that it would have to pay costs associated with ’gay partners.’ As of Jan. 1, 2012, Home Depot California made a decision to terminate all ’gay’ employees because of the California Domestic Relationship Act. That legislation required employers to provide benefits to ’partners,’ " the lawsuit reads, according to Courthouse News.

Housh adds that after his colleagues found out he was gay and that he registered his partner to his insurance plan in October 2011, they harassed him and he was later fired.

The lawsuit says Housh says he was sexually harassed and discriminated and is seeking $100,000 in damages.

A Home Depot spokesman told the Huffington Post that Housh’s allegations are not true.

"We strongly disagree with Mr. Housh’s claims and we will address them in the proper forum," Stephen Holmes, a corporate communications spokesman, told HuffPo Monday. "The fact is that we’re proud of our record for supporting our LGBT associates and maintaining our commitment to diversity throughout our workforce."

As the New York Daily News reports, the Human Rights Campaign said Home Depot was one of the best companies for LGBT Americans to work at because of the company’s policies regarding health benefits to gay and lesbian domestic partners. The chain’s website says it has "respect for all people."

"In order to remain successful, our associates must work in an environment of mutual respect, free of discrimination and harassment where each associate is regarded as part of The Home Depot team," the website reads.

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