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Jail Operations Staff Sergeant: Mississippi Corrections Officer 'Fired Because He Turned Out to be a Faggot'

Cooley

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Andre Cooley, a corrections officer in Mississippi's Forrest County, who was fired after supervisors discovered he is gay. 

From the ACLU complaint:

"On June 14, 2010, while Mr. Cooley was in his home, off-duty and out of uniform, his boyfriend became physically violent, prompting Mr. Cooley to call 911 for help. The official police report of the incident lists Mr. Cooley as the “victim” of the domestic violence. No charges or disciplinary proceedings have ever been filed against Mr. Cooley accusing him of domestic violence or any other misconduct. One of the officers who responded to the call was Defendant Charles Bolton, the Chief of Corrections. In response to Chief Bolton’s questions, Mr. Cooley’s boyfriend disclosed that he and Mr. Cooley were in an intimate relationship. Upon learning that Mr. Cooley was gay and in a same-sex relationship, Chief Bolton immediately told Mr. Cooley not to come back to work before reporting to his immediate supervisor. When he did report to his supervisor, Mr. Cooley was told he was suspended indefinitely. The next day, Defendant Donnell Brannon, Staff Sergeant of Jail Operations, informed Mr. Cooley that the Sheriff’s Department had terminated him because of 'the type of situation' in which Mr. Cooley had been involved. Mr. Cooley asked Staff Sergeant Brannon whether he was being fired because he is gay. After a brief pause, Staff Sergeant Brannon responded, 'Yes.' On information and belief, Staff Sergeant Brannon subsequently told Mr. Cooley’s co-workers that 'Cooley was fired because he turned out to be a faggot.'"

WDAM reports: "The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court by the ACLU, claims the sheriff's department fired corrections officer Andre Cooley after discovering he was gay. Listed as defendants in the suit are Sheriff Billy McGee, Chief of Corrections Charles Bolton and Staff Sergeant of jail operations Donnell Brannon. The suit claims the firing violated Cooley's fourteenth amendment right to equal protection and due process in the termination."

Watch an ACLU interview with Cooley, AFTER THE JUMP...

Read: ACLU complaint (PDF).

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Comments

  1. What is _wrong_ with people? Do people still think they can get away with sacking someone for being gay without a shitstorm of lawsuits being thrown at them? How dense do you have to be to think this kind of shit is going to fly without the ACLU being called in?

    Posted by: TomSkylark | Oct 19, 2010 11:24:48 AM


  2. This is perfectly legal in, what is it, 36 states?

    It completely sucks and is obviously wrong, but I highly doubt it's against the law in Mississippi. Goes to show how messed up this country is...

    Posted by: DN | Oct 19, 2010 11:31:11 AM


  3. Now that Obama and company have worked so hard to pass ENDA, this should be a no-brainer... oh wait...

    Posted by: The Milkman | Oct 19, 2010 11:33:01 AM


  4. I'm fairly certain Staff Sergeant Brannon is on his way to a firing because he turned out to be a moron who makes statements that greatly compromise the state's bullshit defense that this wasn't a case of discrimination.

    Or is being incompetent and a legal liability a protected class?

    Posted by: JT | Oct 19, 2010 11:46:05 AM


  5. @DN : Are you serious ? An individual can be fired in the USA because he/she is gay ?

    I'm afraid if that is the casethen the land of the free has a lot of catching up to do on freedom.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Oct 19, 2010 11:56:56 AM


  6. GET YOUR COINS, GIRL! BAHAHAHA! THESE HICKS MUST NOT READ OR WATCH THE NEWS! GET YOUR COINS!

    Posted by: Hollywood, CA | Oct 19, 2010 12:04:47 PM


  7. As has already been noted in previous comments, Mississippi has no law prohibiting anti-gay discrimination in the workplace, nor is there a federal one, so there was no law broken here. But perhaps the ACLU is bringing the suit as a test case? It might make for a very good one.

    My question is, why would the Chief of Corrections show up to a domestic violence call in the first place?

    Posted by: Adam Sank | Oct 19, 2010 12:36:03 PM


  8. Good Lord, how dumb are these idiots that run the prisons? Uhm, saying you were firing him because he's gay is not just cause. And then calling him a faggot to another worker...uhm, probably not gonna help you defend the lawsuit that will cost you your job and the state of Mississippi for a few million dollars.

    Posted by: Bart | Oct 19, 2010 12:36:32 PM


  9. Getting ENDA passed should absolutely be the gay community's number one priority. It is more important in the short-term and would affect more individuals than ending DADT or even achieving marriage equality.

    Posted by: Vlad | Oct 19, 2010 12:39:19 PM


  10. Hopefully this brings about new interpretation of the 14th Amendment, doing away with the need for each state to have individual employment protection statutes.

    Posted by: TonsofT | Oct 19, 2010 12:41:40 PM


  11. 1) The type of work contract he had is extremely important,example: most Americans are 'Employee at Will' meaning they can legally be terminated with no reason given at all. I'm sure even in Mississippi prison guards have some kind of contract.

    2) Homosexuals are not covered discrimination / civil rights laws in most states. He could still technically launch a civil suit, but that's an up hill battle. Now, if his immediate boss [who sounds like he is also black, judging by his name] had called him the N word instead of faggot, he could claim racial discrimination.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 19, 2010 1:26:09 PM


  12. There's no law prohibiting discrimination based on sexuality, but you're missing the point that public employees cannot just be up and fired. There is a LONG and well documented procedure for the release of any public employee. The fact that they dismissed him immediately, without any reason, documentation, or review period, and without consulting the appropriate state offices is what is illegal.

    Posted by: Jeremy | Oct 19, 2010 1:28:45 PM


  13. Almost 2 years now....I'm still waiting for fierce advocacy although it is getting better inch by inch

    Posted by: John Normile | Oct 19, 2010 1:40:20 PM


  14. The reason he is able to sue even though this happened in Mississippi is explained in the video: It's because he was a government employee. Government employers can't discriminate against employees for being gay unless they can prove that doing so is reasonably related to an important governmental interest. And government employees have some additional due process rights under the 14th Amendment that people who work for privately-owned businesses don't have.

    Posted by: Chris | Oct 19, 2010 1:54:07 PM


  15. ENDA NOW!

    Posted by: Rich | Oct 19, 2010 2:06:14 PM


  16. It will soon come as a novel surprise to Defendant Donnell Brannon that Plaintiff Andre Cooley will soon own Defendant Donnell's ass - as well as the Department of Corrections and most of the County of Forest, Mississippi.

    Sue these fuckers into hell.

    Posted by: david026257 | Oct 19, 2010 2:06:46 PM


  17. LGBT Americans do not have equality, so why is everyone shocked that this man was fired from his job for being gay?

    Posted by: Free & Clear | Oct 19, 2010 2:37:49 PM


  18. Can you imagine the outrage that would ensue if an employer fired a heterosexual woman who was abused by her husband? ENDA, baby! IT matters...I hope the sheriff's dept gets gored in court, and this douche loses his job.

    Posted by: TANK | Oct 19, 2010 2:41:49 PM


  19. The video isn't clear actually. Mr. ACLU said it's illegal for any public sector employees to be fired in all states without I take it 'just cause'; Cooley I assume is an employee of a county and state, not a federal employee. The federal government can stipulate such regulations in regards to state public sector employees? I'm sure he has a contract being a public sector employee [he's not an employee at will] so yeah, they have to prove he did something to warrant termination. But he can't sue in Mississippi for gay civil rights violation. Actually, you can sue civilly for anything, in any state, but it's an uphill battle.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 19, 2010 3:08:32 PM


  20. Depends on where you live in the U.S. Free&Clear. Aside from serving openly in the military [a regulation which is about to end] homosexuals have full civil rights, including marriage,adoption rights, etc., in, for example, Massachusetts.

    Work place laws:

    1) Most people [80%+] are Employee at Will meaning you can quit a job at any time for any reason, and you can be fired at any time, with or without cause. If you are a protected 'minority' such as a female, black, other racial / ethnic so-called minority, you can't be fired for being a protected minority class, and it's not unusual for protected minorities to sue for discrimination when terminated, whether true or not. It's a big business actually. In something like 1/2 the states homosexuals are protected so-called minorities. The states are responsible for such laws within their borders.

    2) Federal government employees are a special case regardless what state they're in. They have sophisticated,complex worker/employer contracts. Many are union members, some not all are civil service. There's a complicated process involved in terminating a federal government public sector employee. Gays are covered under federal public sector employment, again regardless the state.

    3) Most state and local public sector employees also have sophisticated employee / employer contract, with a complicated process for termination. Some also cover gay discrimination, some do not. Many state and local employees are also union, but it varies greatly region to region, state to state.

    4) Professionals [most] have of course employee / employer contracts specific to them, which usually requires just cause for termination, and of course requires they perform at a specific level.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 19, 2010 3:28:14 PM


  21. I wonder when America will move past 1950?

    Posted by: Window Cleaner | Oct 19, 2010 4:32:42 PM


  22. @ WINDOW CLEANER

    Never, I hope. I just love the "Mad Men" fashions too much!

    Posted by: Sheeple | Oct 19, 2010 6:22:52 PM


  23. Mr. Cooley's best bet is to work through the employee handbook and employee policy and procedures manuals. If he can prove that the county did not follow it's own rules regarding termination, then he has a winnable case. I have seen cases like this that the only reason the victim wins is because some one in a supervisory role did not follow the rules as set forth in the policy and procedures. Usually government entities have a multi step process for terminating an employee. The exception being if Mr. Cooley was in a probationary period they usually an employee can be terminated without cause.

    In the states that have "At-will Employment" laws, the people who get sued and lose are the ones that give a reason. Such as "He was a faggot". In an at-will state, if you don't give a reason for the termination, you just state your services are no longer required. It is hard to be sued and win. Keeping in mind that anyone can sue anyone, even if they don't have a case.

    I hope Mr. Cooley can prove that the idiots in charge didn't follow proper procedure for termination or that they have treated another employee differently. He can sue and win.

    Posted by: bsmart2 | Oct 20, 2010 1:50:34 AM


  24. I hope that things change in America soon!

    Posted by: Gutter Repair in Auckland | Oct 9, 2013 11:13:25 PM


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