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PGA Tour Accused of Bias in Firing Gay Worker (1)

April 18, 2018, 4:30 PMUpdated: April 18, 2018, 7:06 PM

The Professional Golfers’ Association Tour is accused of wrongfully firing a gay employee after months of denying him paid breaks and adequate compensation.

Ryan Lebeuf says he accepted a job with the PGA and moved from Florida to California to work on the Ellie Mae Classic, one of the tournaments on the association’s Web.com tour. He was forced to work 60 hour workweeks in a cubicle in the staff kitchen, according to his complaint. Lebeuf’s supervisor made derogatory comments about gay people and gay dating apps before firing him, the complaint says.

Federal appeals courts are split on whether Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. California law protects workers from such discrimination.

Lebeuf originally filed his lawsuit in Alameda Superior Court and claimed 15 causes of action, including discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation and his attention disorder, failure to accommodate, retaliation, wrongful termination, fraudulent inducement to move, and failure to pay overtime and to provide paid breaks.

The PGA denied the allegations and liability. It refiled the case in federal court April 18.

Lebeuf’s counsel isn’t worried about the case moving to federal court. “In fact, federal court may be a better forum to cut through discovery shenanigans,” Mythily Sivarajah of JML Law in Woodland Hills, Calif., told Bloomberg Law. Lebeuf’s legal team chose to rely on California law because it provides stronger worker protections than federal law, Sivarajah said.

Jackson Lewis PC, representing the PGA Tour, didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

The case is Lebeuf v. PGA Tour, Inc., N.D. Cal., No. 4:18-cv-02303, case removed 4/17/18.

(Updated with comment from counsel)

To contact the reporter on this story: Porter Wells in Washington at pwells@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com