Judge: Prove Colleagues Doubted Your Manhood

January 10, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A former Philadelphia firefighter, who complained colleagues discriminated against him because they thought he was gay, cannot sue unless he can prove that he was mistreated because co-workers didn't think he was manly, a federal judge ruled.

Without such proof from plaintiff Robert Bianchi, ruled US District Judge Anita B Brody of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Bianchi wouldn’t meet the legal requirement that the harassment was “because of” the plaintiff’s sex, according to a Legal Intelligencer report.

“His unwavering persistence in presenting his complaint as one concerning his alleged sexuality, rather than one concerning his alleged failure to meet a masculine ideal, defeats his Title VII harassment claim,” Brody wrote.

Bianchi: Harassment Started March 1996

Bianchi joined the Philadelphia Fire Department in 1977. After 17 years of service, he was promoted to lieutenant.

In March 1996, Bianchi began to institute changes in the discipline and training at the firehouse, some of which were not well-received by employees.

Bianchi claims the sexual harassment began within his first month of assuming command.

 An investigation was launched, and investigators found that the firehouse was a “hostile environment” for Bianchi. But none of the responsible individuals was identified.

Soon after, Bianchi took medical leave at the advice of his doctor. Although he said he attempted to return to work, he was never reinstated. Ultimately, the city terminated him, saying he abandoned his job.

The case is Bianchi v. City of Philadelphia.