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California Football Coach And Teacher Says He Was Fired For Being Gay

LVPHOn the heels of the Senate's vote today to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, comes a story out of Oakland, California about a high school football coach and English teacher, Burke Wallace, who was allegedly fired for being gay. Wallace was let go from his post as head of the football team this past spring and was ultimately forced to leave his job as a teacher at the school because of harassment and stress. Now Wallace is filing a lawsuit against the high school.

The Contra Costa Times reports:

According to a lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Burke Wallace -- the head varsity football coach at Livermore Valley Charter Prep High School in 2012 -- alleges his supervisors discriminated against him after he mentioned "in passing" that he had a husband.

The school, the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation [the non-profit organization that runs the school], and a number of John Does are named in the suit.

"He was wrongfully terminated because of his sexual orientation, and the (school's) administration is responsible for that," said John Furstenthal, Wallace's attorney. "They may try to come up with all these different excuses, but I don't think they'll hold water in court."

Furstenthal said Wallace's sexuality was no secret and that some parents and administrators objected to him coaching the team. The suit claims Wallace's supervisors openly discussed his orientation and "how it was a bad idea having a gay football coach."

Derek Austin, attorney for the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation, when asked for a comment by the Contra Costa Times said he had not seen the lawsuit in question.

(Photo via Facebook)

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  1. Speaking as someone who has been through this situation, it starts by people acting strangely toward you in the workplace, then normal things related to your job begin getting difficult, and it just escalates from there.

    Posted by: Eric8 | Nov 7, 2013 8:37:58 PM

  2. California has become a hotbed of homophobia in the work place since Prop 8 was denounced. I personally know two friends, one gay one lesbian, who have been either demoted or fired and based on comments I've personally heard from their bosses, it leads me to believe it's due to them being gay. We can't allow systematic homophobia that is under cover go overlooked.

    Posted by: Boat505 | Nov 7, 2013 9:03:19 PM

  3. I hear this happen often and my suggestion is to always document incidents, lawyer up and then pursue the supervisors. Don't ignore it, because it gets worse when bigots feel they can strong arm you into submission.

    Posted by: Klien | Nov 7, 2013 9:04:08 PM

  4. Seriously, what is up in Texas?!?

    Oops, I mean Oakland.

    Posted by: FFS | Nov 7, 2013 9:52:50 PM

  5. ENDA is not an issue here. California is one of the states with strong anti discrimination laws already protecting gays. So this guy should have a good case.

    Posted by: Ken | Nov 8, 2013 1:20:18 AM

  6. "...and was ultimately forced to leave his job as a teacher at the school because of harassment and stress." - Perhaps I am reading into this wrong, but I read that as he quit because he was harassed and stress. If that is the case, he can't argue anything about being fired. He can, however, sue for the discrimination and harassment.

    Posted by: wheelie81 | Nov 8, 2013 3:31:32 AM

  7. This guy kinda cute. He was profiled on CNN's Money blog as being an extreme couponer.

    Posted by: Quicksilver | Nov 8, 2013 6:12:43 AM

  8. Well thanks Quicksilver ;)

    I am a long time reader of Towleroad but never thought i'd see a post about me...

    CA does infact have workplace discrimination laws that include sexual orientation which is why I am able to bring the lawsuit. In the many states which don't I would have no legal recourse to address the mistreatment.

    This is going to be a long process but I hope that justice is served and someday I can find a school that appreciates what I bring to the field.

    Posted by: Coach Wallace | Nov 11, 2013 8:21:47 PM

  9. In the 60's it was the african americans complaining about this . Now it's the gays.
    Grow up----sometimes one is fired because one cannot handle the job.
    Always with the lawyers. No wonder we're sick of you. Go join the US military and kill foreigers like the rest of us

    Posted by: joe kennedy | Nov 24, 2013 12:25:41 PM

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