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.
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