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Former Human Rights Campaign President Sues Org over Discrimination

Human Rights Campaign terminated Alphonso David for his involvement in Andrew Cuomo's investigation but David claims it was racism.

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Former President of Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, is suing the organization for discriminating against his race. The Advocate reported David filed a lawsuit claiming his termination from the company had been a result of a “racist and biased culture.” His termination, last September was allegedly a result of providing advise to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on how to respond to the sexual harassment allegations.

Per the suit, David claimed he was underpaid because he was Black and alleged HRC board members suggested he stop mentioning his race when making public comments, including the fact he was HRC’s first Black president, according to The Advocate. The complaint cites an instance when David gave a speech to the organization addressing racial issues and was confronted by a white board member who said, “We all know you’re Black, why do you keep telling us that?”

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From The Advocate:

Further, David alleges that one HRC executive told him that a focus on racial justice would put off some donors, including white gay men. That same executive also complained about a Black employee who met with a Black-owned consulting firm without a white person there. According to the suit, the executive said the firm might do worse work if they were working for other Black people.

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The suit also included previous discrimination allegations from other employees that were exposed in a Pipeline Report conducted in 2015, per the complaint. The report found employees referred to HRC as a ‘white man’s club’ and called it a “toxic work environment” where “offensive language” was used often. Additionally, yet unsurprisingly, the report found white employees were more likely to be promoted to higher positions than nonwhite employees.

When David was hired following the previous president’s voluntary resignation, he said he faced a considerable amount of racial barriers, reported The Advocate. “I had to challenge a system and a pattern of bias that has not only affected me, but it has affected way too many Black and Brown people. Discrimination and bias are rife within HRC. And I’m just the latest person to be affected,” said David via Washington Post.

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In a statement, HRC said they renewed David’s contract before discovering his involvement with Andrew Cuomo’s office, per The Advocate. Per the complaint, David, who worked with Cuomo for several years, was subpoenaed as a part of the investigation and had been referenced in the final report. HRC then conducted their own investigation on David and asked him to resign following the results to which he refused. David said via the complaint that he was not given access to the findings.

Interim HRC President Joni Madison said David’s actions were painful a many of the LGBTQ+ people the organization serves are survivors of sexual assault.

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From The Advocate:

“We are disappointed that Alphonso David has chosen to take retaliatory action against the Human Rights Campaign for his termination which resulted from his own actions,” Interim HRC President Joni Madison said. “Mr. David’s complaint is riddled with untruths. We are confident through the legal process that it will be apparent that Mr. David’s termination was based on clear violations of his contract and HRC’s mission, and as president of HRC, he was treated fairly and equally.

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In the statement, the organization also defended the people who David accused of discriminating against him calling them “champions of racial equity and inclusion,” per The Advocate.

David is seeking punitive and compensatory damages from the organization and is demanding to be reinstated, reported The Advocate. “I’m hoping that we peel back the onion and find some sunlight. I’m hoping that we recognize that institutions that purported to represent all members of our community actually have to do just that,” said via The Advocate.