Dirty Pool

Gay janitor claims he was fired for reporting homophobic abuse

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Upsetting news out of Australia: a gay, former janitor has gone public with allegations that his co-workers harassed him about his sexuality. He further claims his employer fired him after reporting the abuse.

James “Jimi” Fuller, 29, landed a job as a cleaner for the city of Ipswich last year. In a new interview with The Queensland Times, Fuller says that after coming out to his co-workers, his job turned into a campaign of harassment over his sexuality. At one point, a co-worker referred to him as a “dirty f*g” as well.

Not long after, Fuller claims, his co-workers refused to work with him. Another co-worker also accidentally sent a text message to Fuller as part of a group chat reading “Let’s get Jimi the sack;” in other words, that his fellow janitors were plotting to get him fired.

Fuller then filed a complaint with his supervisors, which was co-sponsored by another employee that overheard the homophobic slur.

“They did a code of conduct training and bullying and harassment training after I put that complaint in,” Fuller said. “I just want what’s right and that’s to come and do my job and not be bullied. I was victimized and had things thrown at me.”

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Fuller’s employer responded with a letter dated March 23 that labeled his claims “unsubstantiated,” and, Fuller says, pressured him to withdraw the complaint altogether. He refused.

Not long after he received the letter, Fuller says his bosses reprimanded him for discovering a muddy footprint and fingerprints on a glass door at the Ipswich Art Gallery. Fuller had cleaned the area just hours earlier and notes that the gallery was open to the public at the time.

Then, just two weeks after he received the letter pressuring him to withdraw his claims of harassment, Fuller was fired. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.

“I do my job to the highest standard,” he told The Times. “I’ve got about 20 [references] from all the buildings that I cleaned which stated what a great cleaner I am. I said, you’re dismissing me over a fingerprint that was on a glass door … three-and-a-half hours after the building opened to the public.”

Fuller has now filed a suit with the Australian Fair Work Commission in hopes of getting his old job back. The city of Ipswitch, for its part, has declined to comment on the matter.

“While council always seeks to be transparent, this is an ongoing legal matter,” a city spokesperson said. “It would not be appropriate for council to make comment at this stage.”

The case remains ongoing.