The village of Oak Park in Chicago is being sued by a former municipal employee. Michael Aguayo claims he was the victim of sexual harassment while employed there due to his sexual orientation. Aguayo who is gay filed a six count lawsuit against the village and three employees.
The complaints in the lawsuit allege that Aguayo was written up and reprimanded for inane reasons, was demoted and eventually fired after co-workers became aware o f his sexual orientation. Aguayo also claims to have suffered verbal abuse and a hostile work environment which led him to seek medical treatment.
Aguayo’s attorney refused to discuss the specifics of the case or the employment history of his client but said that at this moment Aguayo is employed by the village; however he was terminated over a Family Medical Leave Act dispute and then reinstated.
The communications director of the Local 73 Union said that the union represented Aguayo in the dispute over the FMLA. Aguayo was terminated for taking funeral leave after the death of his partner’s mother, and was not reinstated until union representatives met with the village.
Aguayo seeks damages in the neighborhood of $600,000 as well as court fees and medical expenses. There are strict laws about discrimination and wrongful termination as well as denying an employee’s equal rights due to their sexual orientation. Cases like these are likely to become more prevalent as same sex marriages and civil unions take place across the country, because while some employees understand others feel the need to criticize and ostracize any beliefs or behaviors which are different from what they feel is the norm.