Lawsuit Alleges The Home Depot Targets Gay Employees For Firing

HdIn a lawsuit filed last week in Orange County, California, a former Home Depot store manager from San Diego alleges that he and other gay employees were fired after the financial collapse of 2008 as a "cost cutting measure" because The Home Depot deemed them to expensive to insure. Lex Housh, 57, was fired in 2012 and is suing the home improvement giant for $100,000 in damages. The New York Daily News reports:

"Housh's complaint says that 'Home Depot was concerned with 'gay male'
employees because of its perception that it would pay more medical
benefits associated with HIV and AIDS viruses.'"

The company wanted to cut costs during the economic fallout
precipitated by the collapse of the housing market, the suit says,
according to Courthouse News Service.

He also claims he received fraudulent personnel write-ups from
supervisors, who ultimately fired him for putting a microwave into a
trash compacter, a violation of hazardous materials laws, the suit says.

Housh said he was the subject of inappropriate sexual gestures and the
recipient of sexually explicit photographs after his managers learned he
was gay.

This past year, The Home Depot was named one of the best companies in the country to work for by The Human Rights Campaign in terms of providing health benefits to same-sex partners and spouses.


  1. Jonna the Woodswoman says

    In the event no one has noticed, older employees, who have higher salaries are fired without hesitation. Is Home Depot self-insured (I would almost guarantee you they are) In that event, it is more than likely they ARE firing older and gay employees. I used to work for GE – they did it without fear of reprimand due to the changes in law (tort reform)you will NEVER get a lawyer as the potential damages are too low under the changes in law.

    MIike – you have no idea what you’re talking about. Until it happens to you, you won’t know. The justice system serves the company with lawyers on retainer, not the employee. I learned the hard way. Laws are meaningless, what determines the outcome is how much you can pay an attorney and how much they can make in the event they win.

  2. Rick says

    This is a great illustration of how “official” policies or the passage of laws have no real relevance to what actually happens in the workplace…..and why all the activism in the world is not going to make any difference without a fundamental change in the male culture.

    If people want you fired, they will find a way to do it…..and no policy or law is going to protect you from it.

  3. Bill says

    @Jonna the Woodswoman: the obvious solution is to use “social media” (or whatever buzzword you prefer) to get all the people similarly impacted together and then file a class action lawsuit, which spreads the attorney cost over a large number of people.

  4. TampaZeke says

    I have no idea if this claim is legitimate but I would like to point out a fact to people who believe that Home Depot was a leader and pioneer in supporting the gay community and their gay employees. The fact of the matter is, Home Depot was dragged, kicking and screaming into offering their gay employees partner benefits. In fact they only offered them in 2004 AFTER it was discovered that, after years of refusing to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of their gay employees, they were actually offering PET insurance to their employees. Once this news broke and they were publicly shamed, the FINALLY decided to offer domestic partner benefits.

    I’m very glad that they are now becoming allies but we need to set the record straight about how they got here.

  5. Jonna the Woodswoman says

    @Bill – It is almost impossible to get certification of a class-action. The women working at Wal-Mart have tried on more than one occasion to do so, when it has been well-documented they had reason to do so. The courts refuse, repeatedly. I wish that weren’t the case, I feel for this guy, he’s more than likely truthful in his claim. People need to understand the implications of self-insurance and how there is a conflict of interest when it comes to employees with health conditions, those deemed more likely to file insurance claims and the difficulty in getting any attorney willing to take on a huge corporation with lawyers on retainer. I wish him luck, I hope he has a number of people lined up to testify. I went through a case with GE, it was very sleazy, including private investigators and being put under surveillance. I found 4 GE employees without even trying who had the same experience. They’d been firing people to remove them from their insurance for YEARS. (self-insured) Not only that, when I filed the claim in CA. they ceased mailing me short-term disability checks to try to starve me out.(They managed their own Short term disability, which should also be against the law) Worst experience of my life, I can assure you. I have firsthand experience with exactly what this guy is going through.

  6. calpoidog says

    Sorry, to me it looks like a lot of “allegations” without any proof of the conspiracies he alleges. I would bet Home Depot would rather fire a lot of other people with chronic back issues than “perceived” issues with gay folks. Just doesn’t have much logic to it.

  7. ratbastard says

    Jinnah is correct. And I’m afraid companies terminate employees for all kinds of nefarious reasons, mostly to do with some bottom line and $. Finally, since most workers are Employee still Will, their employment rights are next to non-existant, something many people are oblivious of.

    Mike Ryan also makes an excellent observation.

  8. Jack says

    I have to agree with Jonna. But I’d guess his particular situation had more to do with his age than his sexual orientation. However, suing for age discrimination and winning is very hard to do. I’m 58 and my own experience is that no one would hire me for the last two years except a national grocery store chain which I knew had a history of not discriminating by age. One interview I had with a company that was not self-insured told me they paid health insurance premiums according to a person’s age. I didn’t get the job and I suspect that had something to do with it. Why hire me when they could hire someone else who’s health insurance premiums were $7,000 a year less? I just accepted two 20 hour per week jobs in my field which I wouldn’t have been able to consider without ACA as I don’t get health insurance from either job. I doubt I’d have been considered if they had to pay my health insurance. So even though the coverage hasn’t started, ACA has had a significantly positive affect on my ability to earn a living.

  9. Chadd says

    @Joanna: How can you “almost guarantee” that HD is self insured? I work for HD. They are not self insured. @Tampazeke: the CEO of HD, Bob Nardelli, was forced out in 2007 after looting the company. He was an ultra right winger, but the company is different now and much more gay friendly. I don’t know the details of this particular case, but every story has two sides. Sometimes good companies have bad employees – managers and employees. Besides firing 1 gay employee or several would hardly make a dent in HD’s labor force of over 350,000 people, so hardly a cost cutting measure as the lawsuit claims.

  10. hot dumb italian mike says

    Insanely this went down in San Diego, its almost a requirement to be gay to live and work there. Hopefully, its a isolalated incident, they got great paint!

  11. Junior says

    Those HRC “good businesses for LGBT” rankings are bull crap. Just because a company is chosen as a good company for LGBT DOES NOT make it so. That’s talking from personal experience. The Home Depot can be just as homophobic

  12. says

    The time clock at a Home Depot is unforgiving. Car stopped in traffic due to an accident on the way to work? If this happens (no fault of HD employee) 4 times in six months, be late by one minute, explain to manager on duty and get signed variance form….does not matter, you’re fired. Tough when driving 20 miles to get there for 4 hours on the clock 6:45 some days, 10am other days 6pm other days. And the schedule for part-times changes weekly. This is vampire capitalism. Take life of associate, give $8.40 an hour, then let them go if they get 2 or 3 raises to $8.83.

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