Aaron’s Accused of Sexual Orientation Bias Against Gay Manager

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By Jay-Anne B. Casuga

Aaron’s Inc. demoted a gay regional manager after his sexual orientation was discovered and retaliated against him after he filed a discrimination charge, a federal lawsuit in New York alleges.

Osvaldo Boves said he attended an August 2017 regional manager’s meeting during which his orientation became a topic of conversation after he told a waitress who flirted with him that he is gay. Afterward, Boves said, he was demoted from his position as northeast regional manager and installed as a store manager in the Bronx with no explanation, according to a complaint filed Jan. 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Boves filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Subsequently, his supervisor allegedly retaliated against him with increased scrutiny and differential treatment, he alleges. Boves brings sexual orientation bias and retaliation claims against Aaron’s under the New York City Human Rights Law.

New York is one of several hundred cities and counties that expressly prohibit workplace sexual orientation discrimination. New York state law also provides similar protection. An open question remains, however, over whether a federal anti-discrimination law known as Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act bars orientation bias.

Boves’ attorney, Gregory Antollino of New York, told Bloomberg Law Jan. 2 that Boves didn’t bring a federal sexual orientation bias claim because the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is currently reviewing the Title VII issue.

“I didn’t want to jump the gun and bring it until the court finds the claim viable,” Antollino said.

An Aaron’s spokeswoman told Bloomberg Law Jan. 2 that the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation. Attorneys haven’t yet entered an appearance for the lease-to-own retailer.

The case is Boves v. Aaron’s, Inc. , S.D.N.Y., No. 18-00005, complaint filed 1/1/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga in Washington at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com

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