Man says NJ hospital fired him for wearing ‘too much make up and perfume’
CAMDEN — A former official at a South Jersey hospital says he was discriminated against and eventually fired because he did not conform to male stereotypes.
Stephen Kunkle worked as a clinical operations coordinator at Cooper Health System before his firing in November 2015. His discrimination lawsuit in U.S. District Court of New Jersey describes him as a "homosexual" man and that his sexuality was no secret in the workplace.
Kunkle says supervisors made comments about his sexuality and appearance and used bogus excuses to get rid of him after he complained about his mistreatment.
The hospital, however, says Kunkle was fired "due to documented violations of Cooper’s employee policies and performance related issues that developed in his final year of employment," according to a statement provided Thursday to New Jersey 101.5.
"His claims of discrimination are totally without merit," the hospital's statement said.
The lawsuit claims after his promotion in August 2014, Diane Floyd, Kunkle's new supervisor as clinical director, "embarked on a campaign of discrimination" against Kunkle for his sexual orientation and his "failure to comport with traditional sex stereotypes for male individuals."
According to the lawsuit, Floyd "avoided interacting" with Kunkle, and "directed discriminatory comments" toward Kunkle. The lawsuit claims that sometime around November 2014, Floyd told Kunkle he wore "too much make up and perfume," and that "men should not wear make up."
The lawsuit also claims that another supervisor would make "gay jokes in the work place," including saying "we're all ladies here." Kunkle's lawsuit says he was placed on a 60-day performance improvement plan even though his superiors "had never voiced any concerns" about his job performance before.
Kunkle filed a sexual discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination complaint with the company's human resources department in November 2015, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit claims that the company "failed to conduct an investigation and likewise failed to take steps to cause the discriminatory treatment to cease."
Kunkle's lawsuit claims he was fired in November 2015 because of an alleged "falsification of documents," which he denies.
Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com