GSA sued for wrongful termination
February 4, 2009 1:19 PM
The San Francisco-based advocacy group, The Gay Straight Alliance Network, has been named in a labor lawsuit this past December for allegedly terminating an employee unlawfully.
This lawsuit and several former employees name the Executive Director of the GSA, Carolyn Laub, as the offender in the terminations of numerous individuals over the last 10 years.
In a press release emailed out to several news outlets February 3, a group of concerned people with former and current ties to the GSA, expressed deep concern surrounding the employment standards and practices of the youth-focused group.
The emailed release stated, "In the last four years, staff at the GSA Network, majority of which were people of color and/or gender variant, have either been fired or resigned due to the actions of the Executive Director, Carolyn Laub."
The release went on to claim, "The plaintiff in the lawsuit, a queer person of color who has worked in the field for over 15 years, was fired shortly after a month on the job and relocating from Texas."
Two former employees of the organization, Ruth Obel-Jorgensen and Sean Saifa M. Wall, were named in the release as primary contacts regarding the movement to make the GSA's past terminations and resignations public. Both individuals resigned from their positions at GSA in the last three years greatly because of the actions of Laub.
GSA's Development and Communications Manager , Jackie Downing declined to respond to the press release, the allegations, or the lawsuit and directed that all questions go through the organization's attorney.
The lawyer representing GSA in the current suit, Steve Werth of law firm Lox Ball & Lynch, was able to make a brief comment in response to the lawsuit filed but declined to give any specifics because it is currently in litigation.
"The decision to terminate this individual's employment, while unfortunate, was appropriate, and was not for any unlawful reason or purpose," said Werth. "[We] will vigorously defend against any allegation that the termination of this employee was unlawful."
Obel-Jorgensen and Wall released to this publication the statements they sent to the GSA's board of directors.
In Obel-Jorgensen's statement, dated January 22 of this year, she recounted that, "while on staff, I witnessed and experienced Carolyn micro-manage staff and projects, and tokenize and degrade staff and youth, especially individuals of color."
She went on to state that Laub "abused her power and was unable to cultivate leadership or build a cohesive team."
Wall's statement, dated January 19 of this year, claimed that before he started working for GSA he heard negative rumors about his future boss' work habits.
"Queer youth involved in GSA Network at the time, warned me that Carolyn was controlling and domineering," stated Wall.
The letter went on to claim that Laub had frequently eavesdropped on others conversations, that she uses is using the cause to secure grant money but has "no real concern" for the movement and that she marginalized Wall in transgender group projects despite Wall being the only transgender individual on the committee.
The group of former employees that released the statement earlier this week is still waiting to hear from the board of directors on how they will inform the public about the lawsuit and whether they have any intention of changing their employment policy. They are also curious about the future of Laub and her status in the GSA.
As of Feb. 4, there has been no public statement from the GSA regarding any of these issues.
The independent press release states that the next full GSA board meeting scheduled for March 21.
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