Two separate lawsuits alleging anti-LGBTQ discrimination and harassment have been filed against Dessert Gallery Bakery in Houston, Texas.
According to the filings in federal court, Gilbert Johnson, a gay man, and Katherine Phillips, a lesbian woman, say they were terminated based on their sexual orientation.
But last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars employment discrimination against LGBTQ people.
Attorney and LGBTQ activist Fran Watson, representing both Johnson and Phillips, cited the Bostock decision in her lawsuits.
Johnson, who had worked at the bakery as a general manager, says he began to be treated differently by his supervisor after being on the receiving end of ‘sexualized commentary’ from his supervisor’s husband.
Among his responsibilities was hiring new employees. But according to OutSmart Magazine, Johnson alleges that when his supervisor discovered he had hired a transgender woman, he was no longer allowed to hire employees.
Johnson added that he was “bombarded” with questions regarding the trans employee accessing the restroom.
Phillips, who was fired just a day after Johnson, says that she was harassed about her sexuality by co-workers about her sexuality and that eventually had a negative impact on upward mobility within the company.
At one point, Johnson promoted Phillips to shift leader, but just one month later she was demoted. A month after that, she was fired. The next day, Johnson was fired.
But wait – there’s more!
The court filing also says the trans woman was fired shortly after Johnson and Phillips.
“Even the best companies make mistakes, and the bias has to be minimized because you’re impacting and interacting with a diverse workforce,” Watson told OutSmart. “Seeing that three LGBTQ people were fired in a month—and two within a day of each other—shows that inherent bias was present. We want the law to remedy that mistake.”
Dessert Gallery has issued a statement about the dual lawsuits saying they have “always been committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and our community.”
“We have a long history of celebrating Pride and partnering with, as well as supporting, Houston’s LGBTQIA+ community,” continued the statement. “We take seriously any allegations like those outlined in these complaints but stand firm that these allegations are simply not true.”
The bakery closed by saying, “We believe the proper place to disclose the facts of this case is in the courtroom and look forward to that opportunity.”