Gay man sues Philadelphia Job Corps for antigay bias

    (Photo: Adobe Stock)

    A gay man has filed suit against Philadelphia Job Corps, claiming he was wrongfully terminated from his job as a culinary instructor due to a hostile work environment and other alleged wrongdoing.

    On Feb. 19, “John Doe” filed suit against Philadelphia Job Corps, seeking an unspecified amount in damages. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Kelley B. Hodge and a jury trial has been requested.

    Philadelphia Job Corps is a federal workforce-training program located in South Philadelphia. It serves about 319 students and offers vocational training in eight trades, including culinary arts.

    Doe worked as a culinary instructor at Job Corps for about 22 months, until January 2024, when he was dismissed, allegedly due to smoking an e-cigarette in a classroom.

    Doe alleges severe and pervasive antigay bias at Job Corps. He claims the reason given for his dismissal was a pretext to hide antigay discrimination. Doe also is suing Adams & Associates Inc., a company that partners with Job Corps.

    Doe earned about $50,000 annually at Job Corps as a culinary instructor. During Doe’s tenure at Job Corps, he received several commendations, including being selected as “Employee of the Month,” according to the lawsuit.

    However, some Job Corps students who learned of Doe’s sexual orientation harassed him, including calling him a “fucking faggot,” and wrongfully accusing him of sexual assault, according to the lawsuit.

    One student accused Doe of “touching my ass.” Another student referred to Doe as a “child molester.” A third student claimed Doe “likes to touch little boys and girls.” Doe also was accused of giving a student’s brother a “pet name,” which Doe denied, according to the lawsuit.

    Moreover, Doe contends a student assaulted him by slapping him in the face. However, management refused to review a surveillance video of the alleged assault. Instead, management coerced Doe into apologizing to his alleged assailant, according to the lawsuit.

    Doe repeatedly complained about the alleged workplace harassment and discrimination. But a manager allegedly told Doe: “They [the offending students] were just being kids and they didn’t really do that much wrong,” according to the lawsuit.

    Rather than rectifying the situation, management allegedly retaliated against Doe by firing him on Jan. 12, 2024. Management justified Doe’s firing by stating that Doe smoked an e-cigarette in a classroom. Doe maintains the actual reason for his dismissal was antigay bias.

    Doe’s lawsuit contends that numerous non-gay employees at Philadelphia Job Corps were treated more favorably than Doe, including being allowed to smoke cigarettes in front of students.

    When appealing his dismissal, Doe wrote: “Despite [many] hardships, I have still fought and found a way to educate my students and be a positive force in their lives. I spend a lot of my weekend time looking for jobs for them, coaching them for interviews, being a shoulder to cry on — a voice of reason and a mentor.” However, Doe’s appeal was unavailing, according to court records.

    Doe is seeking an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages; a neutral job reference; and sensitivity training for all of the defendants’ employees.

    In a related matter, on March 18, attorneys for Philadelphia Job Corps filed a request with the presiding judge, asking that Doe’s identity be revealed in court papers. The attorneys contend that Doe is “openly gay” and hasn’t demonstrated he’s at risk for violence if his identity is revealed.

    As of presstime, Doe’s attorneys hadn’t replied to Job Corps’ request for Doe’s identity to be disclosed in court papers.

    Adams & Associates Inc. issued this statement: “Adams & Associates Inc. vehemently disagrees with the allegations against it and takes such allegations seriously. Adams will not try these claims in the media and looks forward to defending these claims in Court. The lawmakers and Courts, not the litigants, decide who has the right to proceed with anonymity.”

    Newsletter Sign-up