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California agency makes gay worker undergo conversion evaluation

Dr. Benjamin Kaufman, one of the founders of a controversial gay conversion-therapy organization has apparently begun consulting for at least one state agency, the California Air Resources Board, or CARB.

That fact came to light in a recent discrimination lawsuit filed by an openly gay man against CARB. He claims the agency tried to force him into disability retirement after requiring him to undergo a “fit for work” evaluation by the anti-gay Kaufman. Kaufman ultimately found him unfit to work because he is gay.

Worse, that evaluation appears to have been prompted by CARB staff being openly hostile to homosexuals.

The man was first hired by CARB as an air pollution specialist in 2001, according to the lawsuit. After exceeding employment expectations for ten years, he transferred to a different division in 2011. Although he continued to perform well, from the start he was subjected to an extremely hostile, anti-gay work environment.

His coworkers indicated that he “did not walk normal, did not act normal, talked about weird stuff and generally did not behave like a normal heterosexual member of society," the lawsuit says. They whispered, gossiped and made disapproving faces and mimicked his speech and gestures.

After enduring this for months, he tried to put an end to it by emailing one coworker to ask him to stop creating a hostile work environment. The coworker responded by filing an HR a complaint saying that he felt threatened by the email. HR’s reaction, he says, was to put the gay man on a leave of absence and order him to submit to a “fitness for duty” evaluation by Kaufman before he could return.

He did return but was met by a retaliation campaign by his coworkers, who apparently filed numerous bogus HR complaints against him. This resulted in another trip to Kaufman -- and this the anti-gay therapist evidently told CARB he was mentally unfit to work and required psychiatric care and medication.

Although Kaufman’s gay conversion therapy has been so discredited that California has banned it for minors, and despite a legitimate psychologist’s complete rejection of Kaufman’s analysis, CARB used it to file an employer’s application to force the gay man into mandatory disability retirement.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in California, whether individuals approve of homosexuality or not, and this man is seeking economic and punitive damages for CARB’s alleged discrimination and retaliation.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Gay Worker's Evaluation Was Biased, He Says," Elizabeth Warmerdam, Oct. 9, 2013

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