NORTH MANKATO — A former Corporate Graphics Commercial employee has filed a lawsuit against the Taylor Corp. company claiming he was fired for complaining about being harassed about his sexual orientation.
The company has denied the allegations, saying Paul Maloney was fired for legitimate reasons. A response by the company’s attorney, Minneapolis lawyer Craig Brandt, also noted that Maloney filed a Minnesota Department of Human Rights complaint in 2010 and received notice in December that the allegations had been dismissed for lack of evidence.
Maloney sent a notice to Corporate Graphics in January saying he was considering a lawsuit challenging the department’s decision. His complaint was filed in Nicollet County District Court last month and the first hearing, a scheduling conference, is scheduled for Aug. 21.
“Defendant was unaware of plaintiff’s sexual orientation at the time his employment was terminated and denies plaintiff made any reports of discrimination that might provide the basis for a reprisal claim,” the Corporate Graphic response said.
Maloney’s complaint names two employees, a prepress supervisor and a salesman, who he is claiming did harass him because he is gay. Maloney, who was a page layout specialist for the business, also named a co-worker who told other employees she knew that Maloney was being harassed by the supervisor and the salesman.
The complaint claims Maloney met with his supervisor, Erica Kittelson, and Eric Lee, Corporate Graphics human resources manager, in November 2008. He said he told them the two employees were calling him derogatory names and criticizing him for his sexual orientation. Lee said he would investigate the allegations, according to Maloney’s complaint.
There was another meeting with Lee a month later, Maloney said. This time Teresa Whitcome, former Taylor Corp. director of human resources, also was there. She allegedly told Maloney she wanted to talk to him about the allegations because of, “who was involved in the harassment,” the complaint said. He said he also told Whitcome he was being harassed because he is gay.
In January 2009, Lee told Maloney he had determined there were no grounds for the harassment complaint. Maloney’s complaint said he met with Kittelson again in June 2009 to report that he was still being harassed by the prepress manager. Maloney was called to another meeting with Kittelson and Lee on June 19, 2009, where he was told he was fired, the complaint said.
Lee allegedly told him: “You are the cause of animosity among managers and it’s making the work process difficult. We are done here.”
The Corporate Graphics response denies all of the allegations. It also claims Maloney’s lawsuit should be decided by a judge, not a jury, because Maloney is challenging a Department of Human Rights decision.