Same-Sex Marriage Plans Cause Problems at Work for N.C. Man

Once word spread that Gregory Hannah, an employee of WestRock Services Inc., was to wed his partner in a same-sex marriage in April of 2016, the homophobic comments and behavior began in earnest at the Rutherford County manufacturing plant, claimed Hannah in new court documents.

According to the lawsuit, after learning of Hannah’s decision to marry his partner, Hannah’s boss, Danny Lynch, falsified complaints from other employees, made crude remarks regarding his sexual orientation, wrote Hannah up for poor performance based on unfounded allegations, and allegedly propositioned a truck driver to allow Hannah to perform a sexual act on him.

A company investigation into the matter confirmed one of Hannah’s several claims with an employee of the company confessing they were compelled by Lynch to falsify complaints of sexual harassment against Hannah.

In another allegation of employer misconduct, Hannah was fired by Lynch in May of 2017 after sending an empty box out for shipping. A later investigation found that the parts that were supposed to be in the box went missing during shift hours when Hannah was not scheduled to work.

As a result of the continued mistreatment, Hannah contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and accused his employer of gender discrimination and employee mistreatment. Earlier this year in March, the federal agency gave Hannah the right to sue.

The lawsuit maintains that Lynch was fired by WestRock Services Inc. for his ill behavior and mistreatment. This was not, however, enough for Hannah who has asked for a jury trial and damages against WestRock. He is also demanding his job back in addition to back pay.

Hannah became a full-time employee of the company and began working at its Forest City plant in 2015, just as the debate over marriage equality for same-sex couples began to heat up around the state and the country.

The company has declined to comment due to a policy that prevents commenting on ongoing legal issues, according to a spokeswoman at the company’s Atlanta headquarters.

The website for WestRock Services Inc. states that “diversity and inclusion” are among company values and claim to foster “an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.”