Publix Ordered to Pay Cake Decorator $100,000 for Firing Him Because He's Gay

Categories: Reality Bites

Red_velvet_cupcake.jpg
Benson Kua via Wikimedia Commons
Caught red-velvet-handed? Or wrongly fired?
Over the past two weeks, half a dozen current and former Publix employees have contacted New Times to complain that the company discriminates against gay workers. One went as far as to say he'd been treated like a "second-class" citizen by the supermarket chain.

Publix denies the allegations. But there is at least one official decision on the books backing up the complaints. In September 2012, Broward County's Human Rights Board ruled that Publix had wrongly fired a cake decorator because he's gay, awarding him $100,000.

What did Publix argue? That the cake decorator was axed for illegally giving a co-worker part of a red-velvet cake bar.

See also: Publix Discriminates Against LGBT Employees, Gay Rights Activists Argue

"We disagree with, and are contesting the ruling," said Nicole Kruass, a Publix spokeswoman. "This former associate was not released for sexual orientation, but for violating our company policies."

According to his complaint, Richard Glisson worked at several Publix stores in Broward County for ten years. Then, in February 2010, another employee was caught stealing gift cards and money from the store.

While he was being interviewed by a Publix "loss prevention specialist," the employee began snitching on others. He said Glisson had given him cookies and once -- worst of all -- a red-velvet cake bar.

See also: Gay Publix Employees Speak Out About Alleged Discrimination

When interviewed, Glisson admitted to giving his co-worker the cake bar but pointed out that it was a kind that the store no longer sold (and therefore couldn't sell). Under Publix policy, he argued, employees are encouraged to sample such items to better assist customers.

Glisson was fired. Meanwhile, other employees who admitted to taking drinks and food without paying were merely warned. Glisson's manager was found to have "consistently" arrived late to work and allowed a little girl to work in the bakery, but was only demoted.

The cake decorator filed a complaint with the Broward County Human Rights Board. In September 2012, the board came down firmly in his favor.

Publix_Logo.jpg
"We conclude that Mr. Glisson has proven his case of discrimination," the three-member panel decided. "The record shows that [District Manager David] Thoman, and by extension Publix, treated similarly situated non-homosexual employees in a more favorable fashion. The record also supports the conclusion that Mr. Thoman's stated reason for terminating Mr. Glisson was a pretext for impermissible discrimination.

"Though Mr. Thoman testified that his sole reason for terminating Mr. Glisson was for his 'admissions of theft,' when compared to the discipline given to the comparators, the near verbatim wording of Mr. Glisson's Associate Statement, on which Mr. Thomas claims he based his decision to terminate, we are left with only one logical conclusion: that the real motivating factor behind Mr. Glisson's termination was impermissible discrimination based upon his sexual orientation."

The board then awarded Glisson $98,408. Publix is appealing the decision, but Glisson's attorney, Scott Behren, expects a final decision in the next few months.

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31 comments
sinbadsailor99
sinbadsailor99

Read the article. There is ZERO evidence that the employee was fired because he was gay. The employee admitted that he gave free food to another dishonest employee. Why is theft not sufficient cause to fire an employee? Because another employee repeatedly came in late and was merely demoted? Because another thieving employee was only warned? If a company does not adequately punish another dishonest employee, does that mean that ALL dishonest employees must be retained?

This 2012 decision is a joke. It was made by three politically appointed representatives on a runaway human rights board. We are not talking about judges here. The board's silly finding that "the only logical conclusion" was that the employee was fired for being gay is laughable when there wasn't any evidence of express discrimination such as anti-gay comments.

The law says that Publix simply needed a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for its employment action. "Admitted theft by the terminated employee" more than meets that standard. When the REAL decision is reached by a judge in a few months and Publix is exonerated, it will be interesting to see if the New Times covers the story.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

They should have let him eat cake...


Hernan Valverde
Hernan Valverde

Wow! With all the LGBT buyers they have in SOuth Florida HMMM

Tonysmith
Tonysmith

Guess he won't be working at publix anymore.

Kyle Awon
Kyle Awon

call names bey Leandro De Freitas

Kyle Awon
Kyle Awon

cake? Dellon Juman Brent Acosta what cake decorator gonna be straight thpugh?

Isaias 'izzy' Rivero
Isaias 'izzy' Rivero

Publix fired someone fired being gay? 90 percent of the employees are gay lol atleast the ones I've been to

Phil Ramirez
Phil Ramirez

If you'd say "this happened in Gainesville" or any other redneck hub, ok... But ft. Lauderdale?! The gayest city this side of San Francisco?!?! Ooooo child!

Heathyr Lynn Briscoe
Heathyr Lynn Briscoe

This is wierd I mean its ft Lauderdale I cant imagine being gay being an isdue there non of my gay friends have ever had issues like this there I mean thats why most of them said they moved there this is just wierd to me.

Ezekiel Angulo
Ezekiel Angulo

Today's lunch sub will consist of turkey, cheese, lettuce, mayo and a side of justice.

apophis08
apophis08

@sinbadsailor99 Publix bakery employees are encouraged to taste the food-I worked at Publix and know this is a fact-at least in the 4 stores I worked at. To call someone a thief who took a bite of an out dated piece of cake is ridiculous. And the issue here, beyond the gay discrimination, is selective enforcement. 

amirite2014
amirite2014

@sinbadsailor99 The only thing they have to work with is that he was punished differently. But whether it was because he is gay is ONE potential reason out of a hundred. I'm sure it wasn't a fair firing, but maybe they just didn't like the guy.

Tonysmith
Tonysmith

Actually, there are many gay employees at Publix in Gainesville. AND county law prohibits sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. So, take that Phil Ramirez.

Tonysmith
Tonysmith

Unless you live life as a gay person, you never know the issues people face. A lot of gay people are good at ignoring things; some are harassed. All it takes is one evil person.

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