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January 30, 2014

GLAD Challenges Employment Discrimination at Fontbonne Academy

GLAD has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) against Fontbonne Academy, a religiously affiliated college preparatory school in Milton, after the school terminated a man they had just hired as Food Services Director upon learning he was gay and married to another man.

Matt Barrett, a longtime food industry professional, was offered the position on July 9, 2013, after three interviews. Mr. Barrett accepted the offer the same day and gave notice at his previous job. After accepting the position, Mr. Barrett filled out the school’s required employment paperwork, including a form that required him to list an emergency contact and state that person’s relationship to him.  Mr. Barrett gave a truthful answer and listed his husband, Ed Suplee.

The next day, Mr. Barrett was contacted by email and asked to come in for another meeting on July 12, 2013.  At that meeting, he learned that the school would no longer employ him because he was gay and married to a man.

“If I’m planning and making meals for students, I’m not sure what my being gay has to do with the job,” said Mr. Barrett.  “I’ve always done well in my work, and was excited about working at Fontbonne.  All I did was fill out the form honestly.”

“Religiously affiliated entities do not have a free pass to do as they please in how they treat employees, particularly when it comes to our important laws against discrimination,” said Bennett Klein, GLAD Senior Attorney. “Our laws carefully balance the important values of religious liberty and non-discrimination.  When Fontbonne Academy fired Matt from a job that has nothing to do with religion, they came down on the wrong side of the law.”

The complaint, which can be read here alleges that with its termination of Matt Barrett’s employment, Fontbonne Academy discriminated against him based on his sex and sexual orientation, and thus violated the Commonwealth’s non-discrimination law.

Mr. Barrett, who was born and raised in a Catholic family, and who lives in Dorchester with his husband, has worked in the food services industry for 20 years in positions of increasing responsibility, at restaurants, with corporate catering services, and in public schools. 

Mr. Barrett is represented by GLAD attorneys Bennett Klein, Gary Buseck, and Janson Wu.  

Boston Globe: Gay married man says Catholic school rescinded job offer