Matthew Hileman (Photo: Facebook)
AT&T offers no resolution in arbitration
with NDO complainant
QSanAntonio, September 5, 2014
One year after the City of San Antonio passed a nondiscrimination ordinance,
the first complainant, a transgender man, met with AT&T in hopes of
settling his claim that the telecommunications company had fired him unjustly.
The result of that meeting proved fruitless.
On Friday, August 29, Matthew Hileman and his lawyer Justin Nichols met
with AT&T's attorney, Diego Pena, and two other company representatives
to discuss Hileman's claim that after reporting hostile workplace incidents,
Hileman was never asked to return to work.
The arbitration session was the latest in a long series of attempts that
Hileman has made with the city and AT&T to get his claim resolved.
Hileman was working for Resource Global Professions (RGP) in May of 2013
providing information consulting services to AT&T. His work was performed
at the AT&T facility on North St. Mary's Street.
While working at AT&T, Hileman says he overheard fellow employees
say they would use violence if they found a trans person in the restroom,
he was outed to his co-workers and he came to work one day to find a sign
on his chair that had a "no fags" symbol on it.
When he reported these incidents to his supervisors, he was told to not
come to work until his claims could be verified. He was never asked to
Hileman told QSanAntonio that part of the evidence he presented at the
arbitration meeting was a recording he made of two AT&T employees
saying they would use violence against transgender people. AT&T stood
it's ground saying that the voices on the recording were unverifiable
and that that as far as they were concerned no wrong-doing had occurred.
Since January of this year, Hileman has pursued the claim under the city's
nondiscrimination ordinance, all the while hampered by the lack of procedural
guidelines as to how complaints are filed.
When Hileman first submitted his complaint in January, the city remained
mum on the issue.
In a February 6 letter to deputy city attorney Veronica Zertuche and attorney
Diego Pena of AT&T, Justin P. Nichols, attorney for Matthew Hileman
wrote, "I have not received a substantive response from either of
you regarding my email below. The complaint is now over a month old, and
we have no idea of its status, or the procedures which will (or have)
take(n) place relating to Mr. Hileman’s complaint."
On February 10, Nichols received a response from Zertuche saying, ".
. . our office stands ready to respond to Hileman's complaint once we
are provided with results from an investigation conducted by Resource
Global Professionals, AT&T, the Equal Opportunity Commission or the
Texas Workforce Commission."
In a February email to QSanAntonio, Nichols said, "We are disappointed
the city isn't taking a proactive role in conducting an investigation
into this matter, and appears to rely on the investigations of the businesses
involved in the complaint and other governmental entitles - all of which,
as I understand them, are separate and discrete from the city's NDO process."
On May 7, after weeks of back and forth on procedural technicalities,
the city finally asked Hileman to submit "formal documentation"
in support of his claim.
Around the same time, AT&T attorney Pena sent Hileman's lawyer an
email saying, "Regarding your client’s allegations, AT&T
investigated and our investigation did not substantiate his claims."
Among the documentation that Hileman submitted to the city were six recordings
that are said to include the conversation between two AT&T employees
and recordings of voice mails from AT&T and RGP supervisors.
In July, Sam Sanchez from QSanAntonio and Texas Public Radio reporter
Ryan Loyd filed separate Open Records Requests asking the city to release
the recordings along with all the other documentation submitted by Hileman.
In late August, the city released about 44 pages of printed documents
including copies of emails, Hileman's affidavit and a copy of his Charge
of Discrimination with the Texas Workforce Commission.
However, the city decided that it wanted to get an opinion from the Attorney
General's office to see if it is required to release the recordings. AT&T
is challenging the release and stated its objections in its own August
18 letter to the Attorney General.
In AT&T's letter to the Attorney General, attorney Pena objects not
only to the release of the recordings but of all documents related to
". . . Mr. Hileman's complaints, affidavits and supporting exhibits
should be withheld from disclosure because the City of San Antonio currently
lacks investigative and enforcement protocols and procedures for its NDO.
By Mr. Hileman's admission, the conversation of the AT&T employees
occurred on September 4, prior to the effective date of the City of San
Antonio's NDO. As such, their actions prior to September 5, 2013 -- the
effective date of the City of San Antonio's NDO -- cannot form the basis
for an actionable complaint. Additionally, because the City has not yet
enacted an enforcement mechanism for the NDO, charged parties' ability
to mediate and attempt to resolve the matter is compromised by the possibility
that unverified and uninvestigated information underlying the complaint
may be prematurely disclosed to the public. This premature disclosure
of unverified information could unfairly prejudice AT&T and the employees
whose privacy Mr. Hileman admittedly compromised."
In the meantime, Hileman and AT&T set up the August 29 arbitration
session in hopes of finding a mutually agreeable resolution to his claim.
In the end, AT&T stood firm and offered Hileman no satisfaction.
Hileman says he hopes to reach out to the American Civil Liberties Union,
the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal Defense Fund to help him pursue
his case. He will also continue to press the city to determine if AT&T
violated the NDO.
Last week, Zertuche told the San Antonio Current a new website would go
online this month which would help people navigate the NDO complaint process
and offer intake forms and resolution timelines. Additionally the city
will create a citizens advisory board made up of members of the LGBT community
who will review cases submitted under the NDO.
Matthew Hileman (Photo: Facebook)
seeks to prevent public release of files in NDO case
QSanAntonio, August 23, 2014
AT&T has petitioned state Attorney General Greg Abbot to prevent the
release of audio files pertaining to an employment discrimination claim
made by a San Antonio transgender man who says he was unfairly fired by
put through first test in complaint against AT&T
Texas Public Radio, May 15, 2014
AT&T company leaders are dismissing sexual harassment allegations
made by a contracted employee late last year against two of its workers.
The complaint is the city's first since council members passed the controversial
non-discrimination ordinance revision.
man submits documentation for NDO complaint against AT&T
QSanAntonio, April 10, 2014
Last January, a transgender man, citing guidelines from the city's recently
enacted nondiscrimination ordinance, filed a complaint with the city attorney's
office claiming that AT&T dismissed him because of his gender identity.
LGBT NDO complaint filed, questions over process arise
San Antonio Current, May 14, 2014
Eight months following the passage of the long-debated LGBT non-discrimination
ordinance, the city has received its first complaint, according to an
affidavit obtained by Texas Public Radio.
man files complaint against AT&T for violation of NDO
QSanAntonio, January 7, 2014
A transgender man who was fired from AT&T in San Antonio is using
guidelines from the recently enacted nondiscrimination ordinance to file
a complaint with the city attorney's office claiming the company dismissed
him because of his gender identity.
from city on transgender man's NDO complaint
QSanAntonio, February 10, 2014
The attorney for a man fired from AT&T in San Antonio says he has
not received a response from either the city or AT&T on a complaint,
filed under guidelines from the city's nondiscrimination ordinance, that
alleges the man was fired because of his gender identity.
man's attorney responds to city's letter on NDO complaint
QSanAntonio, February 14, 2014
The lawyer for a transgender man who filed a complaint using guidelines
from the city's new nondiscrimination ordinance says he's disappointed
by the city's response to the claim.
City won't enforce controversial gay rights law
WOAI Radio, February 10, 2014
Now that the cameras have stopped rolling and the supporters of the gay
and lesbian community have all written campaign checks, the lawyer for
the first person to file a complaint under the new expanded NDO says the
city was a lot more concerned about talking the talk than about walking
man files first NDO complaint, lawyer says
KENS5.com, January 8, 2014
A transgender man claims he feared for his life and left his job after
coworkers threatened him. Now he hopes the city's ordinance to protect
the LGBT community that was approved four months ago forces his former
employer do what he considers the right thing.