Retired gay firefighter Scott Philips Gartner is suing the city of Norfolk, Virginia, alleging he was forced out of his job because of discrimination due to his sexual orientation.
The firefighter alleges that he was discriminated against after Battalion Chief Roger Burris found out he was married to a man, according to court documents quoted in the local news outlet Virginian-Pilot.
The 55-year-old first started working for the city of Norfolk as a 911 operator in 1991.
The following year he joined the firefighters and eventually became an assistant fire marshal in 2013.
He noticed a change in his treatment at work when he married his longtime boyfriend in 2014.
Throughout the following year, Burris allegedly started to vilify Philips-Gartner for his sexuality once asking him “Where is Mrs Gartner?”
The gay firefighter reported his superior’s behaviour to Fire Chief Jeffrey F. Wise and the lawsuit claims he too began belittling Philips-Gartner in front of the team.
Philips-Gartner the reported the harassment to the then-city auditor John Sanderlin, but still, no action was taken.
Things escalated in 2017 when Wise stripped Philips-Gartner of his law enforcement powers and the reason given at the time was that Philips-Gartner had “illegally obtained” a service dog.
Wise told Philips-Gartner in November 2017 that he wanted to fire him and the gay firefighter eventually put in for retirement in December that year, albeit reluctantly.
“This disrupted his whole life,” his attorney Barry Montgomery told the Virginian-Pilot.
City authorities will not comment on personal cases.
In Ireland, it has only been three years since it became illegal for a teacher to face discrimination for their sexuality, but teacher Jean Louise McCarthy says prejudice still remains.
“The law is changed but there’s still the schools where you cannot be yourself. I now have permanency and this is the first time that I’ve been openly out and comfortable being out as a gay woman. You’re constantly censoring yourself, you say ‘my partner’, you use the plural you say ‘they’ instead of ‘she’, or ‘he’, depending who it is, it’s a constant battle with yourself – do I show who I really am or do I protect my job?”
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