State employee claims he was fired for reporting gay-bashing by co-worker

A former employee of a Colorado watchdog agency claims he was discriminated against for being gay and ultimately fired as retaliation for reporting harassment by a co-worker.

Jason Purdue, an administrative assistant with the Department of Regulatory Affairs, alleged in a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division last month that he was suspended and then fired “based on my disability, sex, sexual orientation, mixed race, and/or in retaliation for engaging in protected activities.”

According to the complaint, Purdue reported in February that he was being harassed by a co-worker. John Crone, Purdue’s attorney, said one witness described the treatment as “gay bashing.”

No action was taken, the complaint says. Purdue was then placed on leave, where his “mental health deteriorated,” Crone said.

After learning in late August that the State Personnel Board had denied him a public hearing based on his allegations, Purdue attempted suicide.

“Instead of taking action to accommodate or help him, Crone said, “DORA ignored it and continued to discipline him,” Crone said.

Purdue returned to work briefly in September, but it remained the “same discriminatory, hostile work environment,” Crone said.

On Nov. 2, Purdue was fired.

“DORA didn’t want to address this,” Crone said. “It was a desire to maintain the status quo. It’s easier to fire him than to correct the wrongdoing.”

Rebecca Laurie, spokeswoman for DORA, said the department disputes Purdue’s claims, but otherwise does not comment on personnel matters or pending litigation.

An opening brief before the Colorado Court of Appeals has been set for Jan. 2, Crone said.

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