QUEER VOICES
01/22/2013 11:58 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Ashley Furniture Shop Slapped With Lawsuit From Ex-Worker Allegedly Fired For Being A Lesbian

A New Jersey outlet of America's largest furniture manufacturing companies has been slapped with a lawsuit from a former employee who says she was fired because she's a lesbian.

As the Courthouse News Service reports, Isabel Perez is suing the Ashley Furniture HomeStore in Secaucus, N.J., along with the shop's CEO Eugene Chrinian and director of people services and development Kathy Martin.

Perez claims that she was asked by Chrinian and Martin about her marital status and religious views in separate employment interviews. After Perez was offered the job, Martin summoned her to her office for a meeting.

"At the start of this meeting, Martin took hold of plaintiff's hands and began to pray to God to ask for guidance in addressing the particular work situation that they were set to discuss," the complaint states. It continues:

"During this same meeting, Martin disclosed the fact that she was frequently possessed by Jesus and would sometimes speak in tongues without warning. At this meeting, Martin said that she 'spoke to God' and that she was 'sure [they] would make a balanced team.

"During this meeting, Martin made a number of derogatory remarks about homosexuals, stating that 'lesbos and gays would be judged' and that she follows the 'word of Leviticus' -- which purportedly condemns homosexuality -- and that 'there are many who call themselves true Christians, but they don't know what that means."

The complaint also reports that Perez was made aware that Martin directed "derogatory and discriminatory" comments, including "nigga," "lesbo" and "fag," toward a number of colleagues. Though Perez tried to keep her sexual orientation private, "it was well known among plaintiff's co-workers that she was a lesbian and was married to a woman."

Perez was fired in 2012 after Martin allegedly spotted a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) bumper sticker on her car:

"Martin then asked plaintiff whether it was for 'the gays' and then proceed to tell plaintiff that she was not sure that she made the right decision about hiring plaintiff because she did not fit the 'culture' at the company. She then explained that she was going to 'speak to God' about plaintiff's continued employment with Ashley."

Back 2 Stonewall points out that Ashley Furniture has publicly supported groups like FamilyLife, whose mission is "is committed to helping people know and apply the biblical blueprints for maintaining a God-honoring marriage,” and donated heavily to conservative political candidates.

CLARIFICATION: Language has been added to this post to indicate that only the local franchise, rather than the national company, has been sued.

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