Gay Man Sues Airline Lobbying Group, Claims Boss Called Him “Bone Sucker”

Airlines_for_America's_official_logoA staffer at Airlines for America, the airline industry’s chief lobbying group, is suing the organization for $1 million, claiming discrimination based on sexual orientation: He maintains he was subject to abusive language and paid a lower salary than other employees because he was gay.

Stephen Farina, who was hired by Airlines for America (or A4A) in 1992, initially filed suit with the D.C. Office of Human Rights in May 2012, complaining that his supervisor referred to Farina as a “fag” and a “bona fide bone sucker,” made other derogatory comments, and stated his opposition to gay rights on several occasions.

But, the Washington Blade reports, it was his salary that really told the tale: In February 2008 Farina was promoted to director of industry audits, which brought his pay up to $68,000. An industry survey indicated that people holding similar jobs, both in A4A and related businesses, made between $100,000 and $160,000.

“Plaintiff’s principal role is to provide guidance and oversight for vendors hired to operate 60 of the largest jet fuel storage and distribution systems in the United States and Canada,” the lawsuit says. “On information and belief, other similarly situated non-gay directors are paid substantially more than plaintiff.”

In December, a D.C. Superior Court judge denied a motion by Airlines for America to have the case dismissed. Victoria Day, a spokesperson for the association, told the Blade that, “A4A does not tolerate discrimination in any form and intends to vigorously dispute these allegations.”