Last June, as trains were shuttling passengers to and from the parade, Jenkins says his co-workers shouted “batty boy” and “kill them faggots dead.” Jenkins, who is openly gay, says he became physically ill and was taken the hospital the same day.
“It was extremely disconcerting to be surrounded by co-workers yelling about killing gay people,” he tells the Village Voice. “I am proud of who I am, but I know how hostile people can be.”
When he went to supervisors to complain, Jenkins says his superior told him to lighten up and called him “cupcake.” He was then told he could either have the incident investigated while he remained on the job—or accept a promotion out of the department. Jenkins declined both options and says he was then fired for unspecified reasons. He’s now suing the MTA for $1.5 million dollars.
The MTA vehemently denies the allegations, claiming Jenkins was canned for being a bad worker:
Jenkins wasn’t even an actual MTA employee when he was fired, he was a “probationary employee” working as a car cleaner — and according to [MTA spokesperson Marjorie] Anders, he wasn’t a very good one.
She says two performance evaluations—one in February of 2011 and one in March of 2011—showed him as doing poor work, not adhering to safety compliances, having a bad attitude, being slow, and failing to complete assignments—for example, he refused to clean up coffee, which, as a car “cleaner,” was one of his responsibilities.
“We don’t hire you and wait to see if you’ll be a bad employee,” Anders says, which is why the MTA has a “probationary employee” program—to see what type of worker a person will be before hiring them outright.
According to Anders, Jenkins went missing during his shift on Pride Sunday and never accounted for his whereabouts or presented proof that he was at the hospital.
What really happened that day? It’s hard to say if the truth will come out, even in court. But it does seem odd Jenkins turned down both the chance to have the incident investigated and an opportunity to get out of a hostile work environment. If he’s telling the truth, we’re not sure what he wanted to happen.