Lawsuits Allege Wave of Anti-LGTBQ Firings at Texas Bakery

Thursday March 11, 2021

Two lawsuits filed against the same Houston bakery allege a veritable wave of anti-LGBTQ firings that saw a gay supervisor, a lesbian worker, and a transgender employee all lose their jobs in violation of the Civil Rights Act, which the Supreme Court, in a 2020 ruling, said extends to sexual minorities.

Gilbert Johnson and Katherine Phillips each filed their own suit against Dessert Gallery, alleging homophobic harassment and discriminatory treatment, including the loss of their jobs, Out Smart Magazine reports.

Much of the workplace harassment they say they endured allegedly stemmed from their having stood up for a transgender employee, who the lawsuits say was also fired (but who has not filed a third lawsuit).

Johnson's suit alleges that both his supervisor and her husband - also a bakery employee - began to treat him differently, with the husband making inappropriately "sexualized comments" to Johnson.

Johnson also claims that one of his duties as general manager - hiring new personnel - was revoked after his supervisor discovered he hired the transgender individual.

His suit further alleges he was subjected to questions about the trans employee's use of the bakery's restroom facilities.

Phillips' suit also claims inappropriate comments directed at her in the workplace, and that only a month after Johnson promoted her to shift lead, she was demoted - and then fired a month after that. The reason for Phillips' firing was that she told co-workers "they were going to be written up," Out Smart reported. Phillips' suit denies that she said any such thing.

The putative reason for Phillips' firing, the Out Smart article said, was that "he did not complete assigned tasks," which Phillips' suit denies is true.

The two were fired only a day apart, the article said.

Both Phillips and Johnson are represented by lawyer Fran Watson, who, Out Smart said, is an LGBTQ equality advocate. "Seeing that three LGBTQ people were fired in a month - and two within a day of each other - shows that inherent bias was present," Watson asserted. "We want the law to remedy that mistake."

Out Smart noted that Dessert Gallery sponsors their publication, and printed a statement from the bakery that said the company "has always been committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workforce" and supports "Houston's LGBTQIA+ community."

"We take seriously any allegations like those outlined in these complaints but stand firm that these allegations are simply not true," the statement added.

The company's Facebook page features images of rainbow-themed cookies with "Love is Love" written on them and a specialty rainbow and unicorn-themed birthday cake.