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The Michigan Democratic Party’s LGBT and Allies Caucus plans to picket Busch’s Incorporated on Saturday, Sept. 12 to protest the grocery store’s alleged firing of an employee for being gay.
The Ann Arbor location of Busch’s grocery store fired Marc Roark of Farmington Hills in April of this year, and Roark claims it’s because he’s gay. Roark stated that he knows of other Busch’s employees who have been harassed and demoted for being gay. His case, he said, is but one example.
Roark and his lawyer have notified the city of Ann Arbor’s attorney in writing about the illegal firing.
“It is time that the LGBT people put all Michigan employers on notice that prejudge against LGBT employees will no longer be tolerated,” said Caucus Chair Phil Volk. “Join us with your feet and picket Busch’s market.”
The store is subject to the city of Ann Arbor ordinance (City Code 112) banning employment discrimination against gays.
In a letter to the city attorney, Roark’s attorney, Eric Frankie, wrote that in March 2009, Roark’s boss asked Roark to keep quiet at work about being gay. Roark said his boss told him: “I know that there are lesbians in the company at the corporate level and some in the stores, but most of the management on the store level is male-dominated, and if you want to keep your job with this company I would keep it a secret. Being gay is frowned upon by certain people, like your district manager.”
Roark said that on April 24, his boss told him “that I had three choices to make: I could quit my job, take a demotion in position and move to another store – making several dollars less than my current salary – or ‘we will manufacture write ups in your file to be able to suspend you and then once you come back it will be just a matter of time before we find a fourth reason to write you up and fire you.'”
According to Roark, he responded that he wanted to speak to human resources about what he felt was an unfair ultimatum, but his boss replied, “You don’t f—ing work for human resources, you f—ing work for me you little f—ing idiot.” Roark was fired three days later.
“To protect the jobs of all LGBT people, join us in this first step of an important campaign for equality,” Volk said.
The caucus is working with Roark to address the issue and urges consumers not to shop at the store.
Busch’s headquarters is located within its main store, at 2240 South Main Street, Ann Arbor, where the protest will take place from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 12.