We had already mentioned that Publix — the Florida grocery chain that refused to pay for employee HIV-prevention medication and then backtracked after a public outcry — had previously made donations to anti-LGBTQ Republicans and retained LGBTQ-unfriendly workplace policies. Well, the most recent claim of Publix anti-gay behavior comes from a former gay employee who is suing the company for allegedly firing him after reporting homophobic abuse from his co-workers.
The Miami New Times talked with Juan Pastran, “a self-described ‘effeminate,’ heavy-set gay man” who worked at a Miami-area Publix from 1995 to 2014. During his tenure, Pastran says his co-workers called him a “fag,” “old woman,” “queer,” and (in Spanish) “puta” (bitch), “pajero” (wanker) and “maricon” (faggot).
Pastran also said that a co-worker wrote his name under a picture of a large woman posted in the employee break room. They also “asked him ‘what color panties he wore,’ what size his ‘bra’ was, if he was going to take a day off on Mother’s Day, how often he got his menstrual period … how often he ‘changed his tampon’ [and] … to act more like a man instead of ‘a bitch.'”
Pastran says when he reported his co-workers to the upper management and human resources they did nothing. So he filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EOEC). Upon learning about his EOEC filing, Pastran says, management fired him without reprimanding his abusive co-workers.
His lawsuit says the degradation and abuse got so severe that Pastran would cry during and after work, wasn’t able to sleep and experienced fear and anxiety so overwhelming that he saw a physician and psychologist and got a Xanax prescription for his resulting anxiety and depression.
In addition to Pastran’s allegations, other Publix anti-gay behaviors have included donations to Florida anti-LGBTQ Republicans Senator Marco Rubio and other stories of anti-gay employee mistreatment. Publix is currently being sued by an HIV-positive former employee who was allegedly harassed and fired for his HIV-status. In 2012, the Human Rights Board of Broward County, Florida made Publix pay $100,000 to a gay baker they’d allegedly fired for being gay.
Images via Publix Facebook page