Metro Weekly

Oregon hospital worker says he was slapped, shoved, tackled, and had his locker painted pink at work because he’s gay

Brett Goodman claims he was harassed and bullied at work, and then retaliated against for complaining about discrimination.

Entrance to the Oregon State Hospital – Photo: Ocsdog, via Wikimedia.

A gay maintenance worker has sued the Oregon State Hospital, claiming he was bullied, harassed and discriminated against by supervisors and administrators after they learned of his sexual orientation.

Brett Goodman, is suing the state hospital, the Oregon Health Authority, which oversees it, and five employees of the Oregon State Hospital — including Goodman’s union representative, the director of operations, the director of facilities, and two supervisors — alleging that he was assaulted, threatened, and harassed on the job, and that those in positions of power or influence knew about his mistreatment on the job. When he complained about the harassment, he was reassigned to cleaning the bathrooms and other custodial duties.

In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Goodman claims the five individual defendants violated his freedom of expression, under the First Amendment, to “come out” as gay; that OHA failed to train the individual defendants on how not to violate the constitutional rights of LGBTQ individuals, constituting “deliberate indifference”; and that the hospital has a “custom, policy, and practice of allowing its employees to foster a hostile working environment towards its gay employees, and to retaliate against those individuals who report such unlawful conduct.”

Goodman is seeking an unspecified amount in economic and non-economic damages for the discrimination he faced on the job and for lost wages that he otherwise would have earned had he not been reassigned to cleaning bathrooms (as his compensation would have been higher had he remained as a laborer/student worker). He is also seeking payment of attorney fees incurred in the process of bringing the lawsuit.

According to The Lund Report, an Oregon-based publication focusing on health care-related news, allegations of discrimination and harassment at Oregon state agencies have come under scrutiny in recent years. Last year, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office conducted an audit finding that the Department of Administrative Services, the state government’s central human resources clearinghouse, fails to provide sufficient oversight of investigations relating to workplace discrimination or harassment, and does not track or analyze data on allegations or investigations.

That audit also revealed that state agencies are “inconsistent in how they conduct investigations, with differing timelines, procedures, and documentation standards.” It also suggested that tracking and analyzing investigation data could better help determine whether allegations of workplace discrimination or harassment are being handled appropriately, and if any additional action is needed to remedy underlying or systemic problems within state agencies in order to avoid future lawsuits.

The Oregon State Hospital has declined to comment on the lawsuit.

See also: U.S. marshal claims he was fired for defending lesbian deputy who was harassed

According to the lawsuit, Goodman was hired by the hospital in February 2016 as a custodian, and transferred to working as a laborer, where he helped journey-level trades workers, in 2019. In 2020, his work was expanded to include medical equipment maintenance.

In 2020, Goodman claims he told a co-worker, Robert Peterson, who was also the SEIU representative for OSH employees, that he was gay. Peterson was reportedly “shocked” by the disclosure, and soon after, began physically assaulting Goodman, slapping him on the back of the head, punching, shoving and kicking him, tackling him to the ground and knocking coffee out of his hand. Goodman also alleges Peterson referred to him as a “pussy.” These assaults and verbal attacks were witnessed by other workers, he claims.

Goodman claims Peterson directed a painter to paint Goodman’s locker pink and sprinkle it with glitter, while surrounding lockers were painted white. Peterson also allegedly had the hospital provide Goodman with a pink iPhone instead of a black iPhone, like other workers.

After he complained about the harassment to the human resources department, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and law enforcement agencies, and filed a grievance with his union, Goodman says he was demoted from repairing medical equipment and ordered to perform extra custodial duties. He also claims he found one of his work desks flipped over and another one emptied with all of its contents placed on top of it, according to the lawsuit. He eventually sought and was granted a “voluntary demotion” from his job in order to avoid continued discrimination and harassment.

See also:

California could become first state to outlaw “stealthing,” or removing a condom during sex

President Biden nominates two LGBTQ people to top economic posts

Gay congressman wants to correct military records of service members discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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