The Virginian-Pilot reported that a Norfolk firefighter was forced by city officials to leave after they learned he is gay. Scott Phillips-Gartner 55 apparently ran into trouble after marrying his longtime boyfriend.
Phillips-Gartner worked for Fire-Rescue, staring his career as a 911 operator and then eventually becoming an assistant fire marshal and bomb squad technician.
However, after his wedding, the department stripped away his rank and law-enforcement powers and assigning him a low-level desk job.
His attorney, Barry Montgomery, says Phillips-Gartner wound up retiring amid threats of being fired. “This was not the way he wanted to leave,” Montgomery says. “It was humiliating.”
With Montgomery’s help, he’s suing the city of Norfolk for creating a hostile work environment. The suit notes that Battalion Chief Roger Burris mocked Phillips-Gartner throughout 2015, treating him poorly and asking “Where is Ms. Gartner?” in staff meetings.
It also claims Phillips-Gartner was well regarded by superiors and colleagues until he informed the city’s HR department that he’d gotten married.
In 2016, Norfolk implemented a non-discrimination policy protecting city employees from being unfairly treated on the basis of sexual orientation.
City officials from Norfolk have declined to comment to the Virginian-Pilot on the story or the lawsuit.