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Lawsuit Alleges Wrongful Termination by CU Based on Sexual Orientation.

Byline: Peter Strozniak

A former assistant branch manager claims in a lawsuit that she was fired from the $829 million Park Community Credit Union in Louisville, Ky., because she is gay.

In a lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court on May 12, Penelope Hudson alleges she was "continually subject[ed] to harassment, disparate treatment and a hostile work environment" because of her sexual orientation, and that the harassment was witnessed by other [employees] and members.

"Park Community Credit Union vehemently denies the allegations made against us and will defend our position through all legal means," the credit union said in a prepared statement. "Based on the facts we have been given, we believe the allegations to be completely false. We look forward to the public learning the truth about our organization; which is that our incredible employees are a treasure that we value."

Park Community Credit Union also said that since it has been serving the Louisville community for more than 50 years, the cooperative takes great pride in the diversity of its work force and embraces each employee as a part of its family.

Hudson's 10-page civil lawsuit, however, paints a very different picture of how she was treated during her 15-year tenure.

The lawsuit describes instances in which Hudson's sexual orientation was discussed among some supervisors and employees, and that in one case a member heard these discussions. She was also told to change her appearance because she was "too butch" to deal with members.

According to the lawsuit, a supervisor asked branch employees to "pray for good numbers," but also mentioned that Hudson doesn't believe in God since she is gay. Even when Hudson corrected her supervisor's presumption, the supervisor continued to make that statement.

While Hudson was undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments, she was then asked by the credit union what her medical condition was after her time off had been approved. When she inquired why she was being asked about this, Hudson was told that they "needed to insure it wasn't something related to her being gay." At about the same time, however, a male coworker and his wife were going through infertility treatment, and he was not asked about his medical condition, according the the lawsuit.

Though Hudson received numerous accolades for her work performance, she claims that she was repeatedly passed over for promotions because of her "supervisor's animus towards lesbians," the lawsuit alleges.

While she admits of making some mistakes while working at the credit union, similar mistakes were made by other employees, who were not gay or perceived to be gay, and were not terminated for similar mistakes as Hudson was. She was fired on Sept. 29, 2016.

Hudson's lawsuit charges that Park Community CU violated local, state and federal laws that protect employees against discrimination based on race, color, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

She is seeking unspecified compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages.

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Publication:Credit Union Times
Date:May 17, 2017
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