“Reverse” Discrimination Case Against Heterosexual Teacher

Below and here is the complaint filed by teacher Gregory Kenney against Trinity School, Pat Krieger, and Ann Gravel seeking relief under the New York State and City Human Rights Laws. The lawsuit is captioned Kenney v. Trinity School et al, NY Supreme Court, Index No. 161600-2013.

Plaintiff – a “heterosexual, married male with three young children” – alleges that despite performing well in his job,

when placed under the supervision and leadership of a homosexual, single, female administrator with no children [he] was subject to disparate treatment and unlawful discrimination predicated upon his gender, sexual orientation, age, and traditional marital status.

As examples of discriminatory treatment, plaintiff alleges that after complaining to defendant Krieger that participating in a trip was difficult due to his family obligations, Krieger reprimanded him and “informed him that she did not care about his family obligations and that ‘we all make choices,’ and that she expected [him] to be present.”

Plaintiff asserts claims for gender discrimination, age discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, marital status discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and quantum meruit.

What I found interesting is the New York Post’s characterization in today’s paper of this as a “reverse discrimination suit.”

The New York City Human Rights Law makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice

for an employer or an employee or agent thereof, because of the actual or perceived … sexual orientation … of any person, to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment such person or to discriminate against such person in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment.

The NYCHRL further defines “sexual orientation” to mean “heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.”

Therefore, engaging in conduct that amounts to unlawful discrimination against a white, heterosexual man is, per the terms of the statute, “discrimination” – not “reverse” discrimination.

In my view the term “reverse discrimination” is divisive and should be avoided.  The word “reverse”  implies that there exists another type of discrimination – “forward discrimination”? – to be analyzed differently. This, in turn, furthers the incorrect notion that (for example) discrimination against homosexuals is different than discrimination against heterosexuals.  This is not the law. Indeed, differentiating between members of a protected class in this way is antithetical to the principles underlying the anti-discrimination laws.