A gay man from Oshawa, Ontario in Canada has claimed that he was fired from his job in retail chain Marshalls because they “didn’t like” him and were looking for a reason to let him go.
Michael Gale told CBC News that the company—which has stores across the United States and Canada—is “supposed to be really friendly to the LGBTQ community and it wasn’t.”
He has since filed a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario about his treatment.
Staff at the Marshalls store allegedly made inappropriate jokes and comments about his sexuality
In an interview with CBC News, Gale said he was initially excited when he was offered the job in a Marshalls store—but said colleagues soon started making inappropriate jokes and comments after he confided in a co-worker that he was gay.
He said he wore black nail polish into work one day and claimed a senior manager started talking about how “nail polish on men is disgusting” as he walked past her.
Gale—who is 29-years-old—said he tried to laugh the comments off, but that it got harder as time went by. One day, a female colleague allegedly told him he should “find a nice woman and settle down.”
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“Personally, I think they fired me because they didn’t like me. They were trying to come up with a reason to let me go.”
– Michael Gale
He was then told by friends that managers were mocking him for being gay. Those friends said there were instances where he was mocked while he wasn’t around. One friend, Jewelle Snow, who also worked for Marshalls, said staff would pick up pink and feminine things and say: “Wouldn’t Michael like this?”
In June of last year, Gale said he went to human resources and filed a complaint over the treatment he was experiencing.
He complained to Human Resources about the mistreatment, but said it only got worse
An investigation led to a letter from the company’s regional HR manager, who found that management in the store had “participated in conversations that were hurtful to [him] and against Human Rights protected grounds of sexuality.” The letter also said that formal warnings were issued to staff making the comments.
However, Gale said that—after his complaint—things started to get worse. He claimed he was assigned “impossible tasks” that he couldn’t complete.
Last October, on his final day working in the store, he was told to organise a section that he believed he wasn’t responsible for. When he said he would not have time to do it before the store opened, the manager allegedly said she would write him up.
Gale contacted human resources to complain again about the continued bad treatment, but said he was fired as a result of that complaint.
In a statement provided to CBC News, TJX Companies, which owns Marshalls, said they “value diversity and are committed to creating an environment of inclusion.”
They said the matter is before the Human Rights Tribunal and that it would be inappropriate to comment on the case.