Alphonso David (ex-president of the Human Rights Campaign) filed a lawsuit Thursday against the organization. He argued that the largest advocacy group in the country underpaid him, and then fired him due to his race.
David, a Black civil right lawyer, served as the HRC’s leader for two-years. He also claims that the HRC fired David because he was Black.
Following a report by Letitia James, New York Attorney General, David was fired as president of the advocacy group. It revealed that he had helped a former New York governor. Andrew Cuomo has been accused of sexual misconduct.
David appears about three dozen times in James’ investigation report that concluded Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women. This prompted Cuomo to resign. David was Cuomo’s counsel for many years.
David claims that the advocacy group “maintained discriminatory employ practices”. During contract negotiations with HRC 2021, HRC board members “acknowledged that he was significantly underpaid in comparison to his white counterpart “because of his ethnicity.”
David, the first Black president of the organization, claims that another “prominent” member of the white board confronted him after he gave a speech about race. He said, “We all know that you’re Black. Why do you keep telling me that?”
Chris Speron, a senior executive who had witnessed the protests against George Floyd’s murder, criticised David for issuing a statement in support of Black Lives Matter. According to the lawsuit, Speron was also chastised by David. David claims Speron expressed concern about Speron “alienating” white donors, particularly “white gay men.”
David’s suit also states that the same senior executive “expressed displeasure” about the hiring of a Black-owned consultancy firm.
According to the lawsuit, “He criticised a Black employee for attending a meeting at the consulting firm without any white persons present.”
Jodie Patterson, HRC board chair, expressed concern to a guest at the event that David had given a speech about race. The lawsuit states that David was approached by HRC board members during Labor Day weekend by outside investigators to discuss the Cuomo allegations. They asked him questions and then told him to resign by 8 AM the next morning or he would be terminated for cause. Joni Madison, interim president of HRC, stated in a response to the lawsuit that she was disappointed that David had made the decision to take retaliatory actions against the organization for his termination.
“Mr. David is full of untruths in his complaint. Madison stated that we are certain that the legal process will reveal that Mr. David’s termination was due to clear violations of his contract, HRC’s mission and that he was treated fairly.
She adds that “Notably”, some of those he accuses are people of color, champions of racial equality and inclusion, who supported and guided Mr. David’s organization.
David’s lawsuit is coming as a host of high-profile individuals quit or were fired by organizations due to their connection with Cuomo.
Roberta Kaplan, the board chair of Time’s Up was forced to resign in August after James’ report revealed that she had advised Cuomo’s government after first allegations of sexual harassment were levelled against him.
Tina Tchen, the group’s chief executive, quit following text messages from The Washington Post revealing that she had abandoned a plan to make a statement in support of Cuomo accuser Lindsey Boylan. According to news reports, Tchen and Kaplan provided feedback on an opinion column that smear Boylan.
Chris Cuomo was the younger brother of the governor and was fired as a CNN anchor in December. The investigation revealed that he had played a role in helping his brother to fight the allegations.
On Wednesday, CNN President Jeff Zucker abruptly quit after he disclosed to the network’s External Investigation into Chris Cuomo, that he was in a consensual, intimate relationship with CNN Marketing Chief Allison Gollust. Gollust reported to Zucker.