Metropolitan Healthcare Billing of Eatontown, a New Jersey company, is being accused of revealing, during a staff meeting, that employee Brandy Rodriguez is gay – then firing her after she wanted to officially complain to the company’s owner. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights is now investigating.
The state of New Jersey also investigated and found that there is evidence of discrimination to support the civil rights complaint, according to a press release issued on Thursday.
Rodriguez had worked at Metropolitan Healthcare Billing of Eatontown for two and a half years when she was abruptly fired in 2016. Rodriguez is accusing Metropolitan Healthcare Billing’s director of business operations, Marissa Malmstrom, of telling the entire staff meeting that the employee could know automatically whether a company client was homosexual or not because of her “gaydar.”
Rodriguez told her Malmstrom in an email that the so-called joke was “unprofessional” and “uncomfortable.” Rodriguez also didn’t like that her sexuality was outed by Malmstrom in front of a recent hire who didn’t know she was a lesbian.
According to the state, Rodriguez and Malmstrom had an in-person meeting where Malmstrom said that she thought her comment was okay because Rodriguez had joked about her sexuality at work previously.
When Rodriguez asked to speak with the company’s owner because the human resources director was the Malmstrom’s sister, Rodriguez was fired on the spot.
According to the New Jersey Law Journal, Malmstrom said she had asked the company owner, Dr. Rajiv Uppal if he wanted to talk about the “gaydar” incident with Rodriguez – but that Uppal declined and said not to bother him with personnel issues of that kind.
It’s not unusual for LGBTQ people to want to stay closeted at work. More than 50 percent of LGBTQ employees remain closeted in their workplace in spite of civil rights advances, according to a 2018 survey by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
Even though a majority of Americans think employers shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation, 90 percent of Americans voters think there’s a national law forbidding workplace discrimination and protecting LGBTQ employees, but there isn’t.