New Jersey Librarian Files Federal Complaint After Being Fired for ‘Gay Lifestyle’
Author: Christopher Wiggins
A public library employee in New Jersey has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that he was subjected to a hostile work environment that resulted in his unfair firing for “his gay lifestyle.”
He claims harassment, discrimination, and retaliation based on sexual orientation.
Jeffrey Machno was hired as a part-time library assistant for Secaucus Public Library and Business Resource Center in 2020.
As the global pandemic robbed people of their ability to assemble or go to their local library, Machno took his creativity online and played host to live trivia and other social events on the organization’s Facebook page, NJ.com reports.
He also hosted a local talent competition, Seacacus Got Talent.
As recently as October, Machno was featured on New York City-area television because he was so famous for being a welcoming and inspiring librarian in his Seacaus community. Even the town’s mayor appeared in the report singing Machno’s praises.
But in December, Machno filed his complaint with the EEOC. He says in the intervening time, his supervisor told him that his “gay lifestyle” was unacceptable to her.
Machno was excluded from work events after complaining to his supervisor, according to the complaint. As a result, Machno did not get asked to return to host Secaucus Got Talent 2022, despite hosting the event the year before.
Upon asking why Machno was no longer hosting an event, an unnamed library employee responded that Machno’s lifestyle was inappropriate for the town, according to an email sent to Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli.
Machno escalated his concerns in the fall of 2022. On October 28, Machno requested a meeting with the board of trustees’ vice president concerning the “uncomfortable, palpably curt, and unprofessional behavior” of his supervisors.
Machno complained that he had been treated “unfairly and aggressively.”
The complaint alleges Machno was fired three days later from Secaucus Public Library.
Machno filed the complaint against Secaucus Public Library in December.
His inquiry has been assigned to the EEOC’s Newark district office, according to a notification he received on April 4.
An EEOC spokesperson said the agency cannot comment on complaints or confirm whether cases are being investigated. Further, the EEOC cannot comment unless it brings a lawsuit, she added, according to NJ.com.
The mayor said he learned of Machno’s dismissal only after Machno was fired.
“I was upset when it happened, and I’m still upset by it,” Gonnelli told the news site. “It’s a library board that’s appointed by me, and they did something without telling me ahead of time.”
Machno has since secured another part-time job at another library, but the experience has him worried about disclosing his sexual orientation to new employers in the future.
“In some ways, I feel like I’m in high school again. Like I can’t say I’m gay,” he said.
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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Christopher Wiggins