STAFF REPORTS | DES MOINES -- A former Iowa store clerk is suing a convenience store chain he claims fired him because he's gay. Wayne Shimer, 22, a West Des Moines resident was fired from Casey's General Stores after he claimed he asked for permission to have his husband be able to visit him at the convenience store where he worked. Shimer also alleges in court documents that he was chastised by his boss for 'feminine behavior.'
According to court documents filed in a lawsuit earlier this month in Polk County Iowa District Court, Shimer alleged that he was forced to watch as other store employees were allowed visitations by spouses or their partners for a quick hello, while he was denied that privilege solely because he was in a same-sex relationship.
Shimer, in a statement to The Des Moines Register newspaper, said the treatment he faced working at the convenience store left him wanting “fair and equal treatment in the workplace for all Iowans.”
When Shimer’s boss fired him the Des Moines Register reported, she told him he had been inappropriate in a confrontation with a co-worker about an issue with a customer. The lawsuit, however, alleges a pattern of bigoted comments and discrimination against him (Shimer) by his supervisor said Andrew LeGrant, Shimer’s attorney..
“In this day and age, discrimination in the workplace is simply unacceptable,” Shimer said in a written statement. “I would like to see employers take more pride in their employees and work to prevent and stop discrimination in the workplace altogether.”
After he was fired, Shimer filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the state agency that first hears allegations of discrimination under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. The commission issued a right-to-sue letter Feb. 7, allowing him to take the case to court.
Christopher Clark, a senior staff attorney with LGBT rights advocacy group Lambda Legal, noted Friday that if Iowa hadn't added sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination laws in 2007, it would be difficult for Shimer’s lawsuit to proceed through the courts, he said.
“Iowa is a good place with respect to having a law that does protect members of the (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community,” he said. “These laws are passed because the types of actions that are described in this complaint do occur and they occur with some frequency.”
Shimer told the Register that he is suing for monetary damages to send a message,
“It is my hope that this civil action will open the eyes of employers and the community and serve as a reminder that sexual orientation and who we love should not disqualify anyone from employment.”
Casey's General Stores, Inc. is a chain of convenience stores in the Midwestern United States.