A former Metro-North employee is suing the MTA for discrimination based on his sexual orientation.
Reginal Jenkins alleges that on June 26, 2011, Gay Pride Day in New York City, several co-workers made repeated derogatory comments about customers riding the trains to and from the parade, and sang a Caribbean song calling for the murder of gay men. When he complained, he said his foreman called him “cupcake” throughout the day.
Jenkins' attorney, Vincent White of White, Rose, and Marks, said his client is a proud gay man, but chose not to make that fact known to his co-workers. In a press release, White said Mr. Jenkins tried to ignore his co-workers' behavior out of fear that the situation could turn uglier. But by late afternoon, "Jenkins was physically ill from dealing with this level of stress and fear and asked to leave work. He was admitted to the hospital for severe internal distress," White said.
Jenkins added, "It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, to experience this and feel like it was too dangerous to speak up.” Jenkins requested a leave of absence to recover and asked the appropriate departments at MTA to investigate.
In his lawsuit Jenkins alleges the MTA told him he could either have the incident investigated or be promoted.
"This would have left him in a hostile work environment while the situation was investigated, or let the instigators go without repercussions. When Jenkins didn’t accept the promotion option right away he shortly thereafter received a non-specific letter of termination while out on his approved medical leave," White said.
The MTA did not return a request for comment.
"Mr. Jenkins really just wanted to do his job,” White said. “There's no reason he can't just live his life and do his job.”