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Troubleshooters: Discriminated against because of sexual orientation?

READ MORE: Troubleshooters: Discriminated against because of sexual orientation
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In this week’s Troubleshooters Report, a Brunswick County man feels he was discriminated against, because of his sexual orientation. Kevin Godwin applied for a management job at a Wilmington rental company. The company seemed very interested in him - even hashing out his future territory and talking salary. Kevin said it seemed as if the job was his, until the interview, when they found out he was gay. "I've never disclosed it before in an interview,” said Godwin. He has had a successful career, but over the last 20 or so years, Kevin Godwin said he's lost 2 jobs, after employers found out he was gay. So Kevin was relieved to find a company that advertises they don't discriminate based on sexual orientation. “I did the interview with him and he asked me to tell him a little bit about myself. I told him I'm in an alternative lifestyle, I'm in a partner relationship, and he said, ‘well what do you mean?’ I said I'm in a gay partner relationship, and I have been for 10 years, and at that point the body language changes a little bit. The pen just nonchalantly goes back in his pocket, and there was no more note taking from that point forward,” described Godwin. The very next day he got a rejection letter in the mail, saying his background, skills and career objectives didn't match their needs. Even if he was discriminated against because he's gay, lawyers say it's not against the law. Attorney Duke Lineberry said, "There are bills pending both in the House and in the Senate where making discrimination based on someone's sexual orientation or gender identity would be illegal, but they haven't passed yet, and they've been there for a number of years.” You may be thinking, someone's sexual orientation is none of their employers business. But the law does not see it that way. “Employers do have a vested and legitimate interest in making sure that their workforce is cohesive, and they're going to be able to work together" Because Kevin did not suffer any damages, like quitting his former job on a legitimate belief that he was going to be hired by this employer, attorneys say he doesn't have a case based on the fact the company advertises it doesn't discriminate. So what should you do if you’re gay and looking for a job? Attorneys don't recommend lying about your sexual orientation if asked, but they don't suggest bringing it up, either. "When I blurted that out, it just seemed like it ended right there,” Godwin said. News Channel 3 did not name the employer in question; because there's no proof they didn't hire Kevin because of his sexual orientation. But, we did think it was an interesting issue worth exploring. Employers are also within their legal rights to discriminate against smokers, obese applicants, those with tattoos and piercings, or people of a different political party. Even if you are part of a protected class, because of your age, race, gender, or religion, proving you were discriminated against in a court of law, is not easy to do.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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sexual orientation

In response to the folks who suggest gays should not express the fact that they are gay at an interview, let me ask you this... have you ever had a job where the subject of your family or spouse never came up? Do you never mention your family or spouse at work? I think not. Gays should not need to lie about their family or spouse; essentially forced to represent someone who doesn't exist. It's counter productive and a waste of time. Pretending to be someone different is disingenuous and takes a lot of work. Let me tell you, if you were discriminated against time and again because of who you are, you would also likely tend to want to just tell the truth prior to going through the pain and suffering caused by managers or colleagues who don't like gay people. And if the don't like you, they will find a way to force you out.

here's the flip side of the coin

Well, let me set the record a bit straight here, no pun intended. There is alot to be had said for the basic version of what you saw on tv. Let's talk about my FIRST interview where I DID NOT reveal my sexual orientation, I represented myself in a professional manner and listed my achievements and skills and background that won over the Regional Manager I was interviewing with. Only until one of my friends pointed out to me that on 'that companys' website that they do not discriminate based on sexual orientation did we both say, hmm, they must be gay friendly. Anyway, numerous texts and emails were exchanged between myself and the Regional Manager, all positive in nature, and just a few days before the 'final interview' with his superior, I was asked for personal and professional references be given and they were called and evidently glowing referrals must have been given, as the next email he sent to me asked me to submit my w-2's as they were 'willing to match or better my current salary'. I have over 2 dozen emails that I saved as if anyone with common sense were to read them, they would say, 'hmm, that guy is going to get that job'. I am NOT ASHAMED of who I am. I also have had the unfortunate experience of having lost 2 other jobs in the past 20 years because of me being gay, as my employers just were not accepting of that. One even referred to me as 'you sick people' And you know what recourse I had, NONE, Nada, zip, as here in most southern states we are employed at-will. So I accept that and move on. I have not sought out any legal representation, that was done solely on the part of the news reporter. As my 'friend' earlier said, think how many of you have ever stated to someone in an interview about your family, your children etc. Why should my comment about being in a partnered relationship for 10 years be any different. All it is, is your own mindset. For the guy who commented about me being a manager working with a bunch of straight men and 'hitting on them', are you an idiot? I am a professional manager, period. I know how easy it is to cast judgment on things most of you don't understand, but the unfortunate part is, I now know what the African American people have gone through when they are discriminated against because of nothing more than race. It hurts, and now I have been through it 3 times. As I told my friend, the only reason I contacted the news folks was to just create awareness, as just because that's they 'way it is', doesn't make it right. My skills and qualifications are now being served by a company who actually preaches what it states, they DO NOT discriminate against sexual orientation, and it is gay friendly.

Consider this

As a manager, I have two primary goals: Accomplish my assigned mission of running my department or business at a profit and to take care of the current employees who make that possible. If I'm a good manager, I know my people. I know their strengths and weaknesses, their skills and the areas they need to develop. Now, let's say that you're an accountant, a very good accountant, and you are interested in a position in our growing accounts receivable department. During your interview, it comes out that you are gay. I happen to know that the head of my Finance Department, an absolutely brillaint leader, is rabidly anti-gay. I also know that he's a great accountant too, a good boss, and the departments under him all exhibit great loyalty towrd him. He's producing the results I expect of him. Do you think I'm going to hire you? Do you think I'm even going to schedule a time for him to meet you? Work isn't a social egineering laboratory. We have no time to deal with being politically correct or trying to alter human behavior. The person who didn't hire you may have absolutely nothing against gay men, but simply knew that because of the existing people, it wouldn't be a good mix. And no manager or leader with a brain is going to tear his organization apart trying to make you fit in. I fully agree that your sexual preference has no bearing on your ability to do your job, but welcome to reality. Predjudice against gays IS widespread, and I'm not risking my organization's smooth oeration and profitability to be noble. A far better alternative would be to remain a "stealth gay," get hired and let your co-workers get to know you. Then, eventually, over time, it will come out that you are gay. By then you are part of the team. Sure, it might still blow up and you may eventually leave because the accounting head now hates you. But if you're really THAT GOOD, he's not going to drive you away. He's not so stupid as to get rid of one of HIS best people. It might even do a world of good, by decreasing his predjudice toward gays. You have now seen that a frontal attack isn't always your best option. Sometimes a covert flanking movement is a far better option.

hiring practices?

"Employers are also within their legal rights to discriminate against smokers, obese applicants, those with tattoos and piercings, or people of a different political party." I find this statement frightening- I did not know that these things were a legal way to refuse employment. Does this mean employers can ask you how much you weigh? How did you vote? Got any tattoo's under your shirt? Pierced belly button? Yikes!Scary!!!

It's not scary at all

It simply reinforces the fact that an employer has the right to hire whoever HE wants to hire. Many businesses refuse to hire smokers and lard-butts because of healthcare costs. They also pass on people with visible tattoos when the job requires interfacing with the public. Many law enforcement agencies (such as the FBI) prohibit tattoos for a variety of reasons, from under-cover work to short-sleeves on uniformed patrol. I can absolutely guarantee you that when I had to conduct interviews and it became apparent that a prospective employee was a left-wing loon, they weren't even considered. I'm not going to hire an obvious idiot. The laws regarding discrimination are very tight and very specific, as they need to be. No employer should be forced to hire someone he objects to, or who will not fit in with the team.

What would you do if the

What would you do if the prospective employee was a right-wing loon?

No such thing

Unless he was a skinhead tattooed with swastikas, his traditional, conservative values could only enhance his chances for the getting the job. I want employees who are hungry to become millionaires, not save the world.

Also wondering

I do wonder also why this even came up in the interview. If he was so close to being hired, one can only assume he is qualified for the job. Why even mention the fact that he is gay? Did he want a special parking space? Leave it alone. Now, here's the devil's advocate. What if he was hired and since he thought it important enought to mention in the interview, he brought that lifestyle to work? Now you have a staff of straight employees who are hit on by a gay man and the men he hit on are uncomfortable. You now have a hostile work environment. Guess what folks, private business is at-will employment. If the owner of the company didn't want to hire him because that is what he feared, too bad. He shouldn't have mentioned it. A qualified person, straight or gay, deserves to be given a chance to do the job. Keep your personal life personal. Leave it at the door. Now, one more thing. I love the law and everything about it, but I don't agree with not enforcing it as it is written. The sexual acts gays commit in their "relationships" are FELONIES in NC. FACT! You wanna be gay, have at it. Dont rub it in my face, and I won't tell you about my wonderful marriage to my wife. I couldn't care less if anyone is gay or not but don't use it as a crutch to and cry descrimination when it costs you something. I think it's time for the region to have a straight pride parade and celebrate being straight and single or married to the opposite sex.Sorry, I got off on an rant had to point out a couple things.

life style

I am sure this man is well qualified for this job and is a decent human being. At his age he should know just how many homophobic jerks there are out in the world and not tell anyone anything unless asked the direct question. A lot of men are so insecure with their own sexuality that they can not tolerate being around a gay man in any situation. Sad but true.

Life choice

"homophobic jerks". There are just as many gay jerks that think they deserve special treatment. I've worked with some gay men over the years and had no problem with the ones that kept their sexual preference and tendencies to themselves. I was very uneasy working around the flamers because they wore their "gayness" on their sleeves and you had to be careful what you say to them in fear of getting labeled homophobic jerk.

About his interview

Being a personal friend of Kevin, and knowing and having seen all the paperwork from text and emails from him and the regional manager there is more to this than just a few tidbits of information that you saw on tv. In all the texts and emails that he saved, positive forward progression was being made towards him securing the position. As a matter of fact, one of the emails from the regional manager of that company stating 'we are attempting to match or better what you were making, however we need to confirm those salaries'. Kevin did NOT want to ever sue, nor did he ever seek legal advice, the news reporter did that on her own. The only reason Kevin brought up his orientation is that same as what most of us 'straight' people do when asked to tell a little about us personally, think about it, how many times have any of you ever said, I've been married for x number of years and have x number of children..got the picture. He's very much the professional in all walks of life, I should know, our friendship dates back almost 20 years and he's the godfather of my daughter. It's easy to point negatives, but until you have walked in another's shoes and have been put in that situation, then you never really know what the person has been through. Kevin's objective was to do nothing more than bring awareness of how discrimination is discrimination regardless of however laws are written. That shouldn't be too hard to understand.

Keep it on a need to know basis.

I worked in HR for a number of years and the subject or marital status by law should never come up during an interview and yes you should keep it job related in the tell me about your self discussion. I am in an alternative lifestyle but don't wear it on my sleeve! Focus on your skills and maybe hobbies, church and volunteer work. After you get the job, show up on time, be the best employee and just tell them you have a roomate, not a partner. If the cat comes out of the bag as did with me at one of the Suntrust offices there a couple of years ago, and they end up railroading you out, hit them in the pocket book with 6 months of unemployment payments and a nice little settlement. Black, white, hispanic, straight or gay, if you are a employee in good standing, show up on time and do your job, and the work enviroment takes a turn for the worse, the state, the law and the courts will back you up!

Interviewing 101

I thought it was pretty basic knowledge that when the employer asks you, "tell me a little bit about yourself" that you keep it career related. I don't see how it would ever be relevant to bring up your sexual orientation. Why didn't you just bring up how many bowel movements you have a day?

Strange....you don't LOOK stupid...

Exactly WHY would you feel that it was appropriate to "blurt out" that information? Question for gays - why is your sexuality the prime determining factor in who you are? Why is it so important? I'm heterosexual. It's a part of my life, but not THE defining attribute of my life. It plays no part in my work at all. Never once in an interview did I feel a need to blurt out, "Man, do I loves dem wimmin." So why is it so all-fired important to be identified as a gay man, instead of just a man?

Sexual Orientation

It was inappropriate for Mr. Godwin to tell his interviewer that he was in an "alternative lifestyle," suggesting that his sexual orientation is the most definitive aspect of his identity. As for myself, I detest labels of all sorts, and I certainly would not allow my sexuality to define me. The "gay" label is far too restrictive. The current trend for inappropriate self-disclosure is sickening. Surely there is more to Mr. Godwin than just being a "gay man" looking for employment. Has he no other interests, pursuits?

Personally, I don't know why

Personally, I don't know why you'd feel that anything was "blurted out" during the interview. If someone asked you to tell them a little about yourself, wouldn't you possibly say you are married with 2 children, or engaged, or divorced, or whatever the case may be & then continue on with other details about your life from there. (Of course that is assuming that you have found someone who is willing to put up with your ignorance to begin with) Yet, no one asks you "Why do you need to blurt out the fact that you are in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex?! Do you really need to flaunt that for the world to know. Whatever you want to do with your life, should be done in the privacy of your own home, etc. etc."

It truly is ridiculous & sad how closed-minded, ignorant & judgmental some people still are. It's people like you who still probably feel slavery should have never been abolished. Please do educate yourself a little more about life & the world around you.

Personally, I don't know why

Personally, I don't know why you'd feel that anything was "blurted out" during the interview. If someone asked you to tell them a little about yourself, wouldn't you possibly say you are married with 2 children, or engaged, or divorced, or whatever the case may be & then continue on with other details about your life from there. (Of course that is assuming that you have found someone who is willing to put up with your ignorance to begin with) Yet, no one asks you "Why do you need to blurt out the fact that you are in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex?! Do you really need to flaunt that for the world to know. Whatever you want to do with your life, should be done in the privacy of your own home, etc. etc."

It truly is ridiculous & sad how closed-minded, ignorant & judgmental some people still are. It's people like you who still probably feel slavery should have never been abolished. Please do educate yourself a little more about life & the world around you.

sexual orientation

For some odd reason, there are gays who seem to feel the compulsion to tell the world that they are of another persuasion. Although I do not agree with the blatent gay activities that s ome need to display,I feel they should be allowed to do their things in private. An example of out and out blatency can be seen on Jackson Street. There, in the yard, is a flagpole as large as one at a federal building. On this flagpole is a hugggggeee gay pride flag! Some gays just HAVE TO display their lack of other talents by using hideous symbols which are detrimental. This gargantuan flag is a joke in itself as well as an eyesore.