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West Des Moines store clerk claims he was fired for ‘feminine behavior’

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A West Des Moines man is suing Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey’s General Stores for gay discrimination after being fired for what he described in an interview as “feminine behavior.”

Speaking to the Des Moines Register, 22-year-old Wayne Shimer alleged a pattern of bigoted comments and discrimination against him that began about a month after starting work at Casey’s. The harassment began after his supervisor discovered that he was gay, he said.

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Iowa is one of several states that has explicitly codified sexual orientation as a protected class for the purposes of anti-discrimination law. Iowa was also one of the first states to legalize gay marriage. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission issued a right-to-sue letter Feb. 7 after Shimer’s initial complaint, allowing him to take the anti-discrimination case to court.

Shimer’s husband wasn’t allowed in the store while Shimer worked his shift, while other store employees were allowed to have a spouse or boyfriend stop by, the lawsuit said. In a meeting in his supervisor’s office, Shimer’s manager allegedly told him not to make customers and co-workers uncomfortable by acting “feminine” in the store, according to the lawsuit. The supervisor also made “repeated” derogatory comments toward him, including “you don’t fit in normal society,” according to the lawsuit.

In September, the manager fired Shimer, a week after Shimer’s co-worker left the store angrily after a confrontation, in which he questioned her on whether she could have handled a situation better with a customer — a pretext allowing for his unlawful termination, the suit contends.

Shimer is seeking monetary damages.


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