Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management

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Status: Open
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Issues: Anti-LGBT Rulings, Laws and Amendments, Employment and Rights in the Workplace

Lambda Legal and co-counsel Mark Schuver and Natalie Lorenz filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on behalf of Mark Horton, a healthcare sales specialist whose job offer at St. Louis-based Midwest Geriatric Management (MGM) was withdrawn when the employer found out Horton is gay. 

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In February 2016, Horton, then vice president for sales and marketing for Celtic Healthcare, was approached by an executive search firm hired by Midwest Geriatric Management, a Celtic Healthcare competitor, to fill a similar position at MGM. While Horton was not actively looking to leave Celtic at that time, MGM’s representative persuaded him that it would be worth his while, so Horton decided to apply. After an extensive assessment and interview process, in mid-April, 2016, Horton received a written job offer from MGM’s owners, Judah and Faigie (Faye) Bienstock. Horton accepted the offer on May 4, and received an enthusiastic reply email from Faye Bienstock welcoming Horton to MGM. Based upon both the written offer and the enthusiastic reply, Horton notified Celtic Healthcare that he would be leaving.

In the course of finalizing details and tracking down academic records for MGM’s background check, Horton had several conversations with Faye Bienstock, none of which indicated any issue with the unexpected delay. Then, on May 17, in an email updating Bienstock on the status of his academic record search, Horton revealed he was in a same-sex relationship when he wrote: “My partner has been on me about [my MBA] since he completed his PhD a while back.” Five days later, Bienstock wrote Horton withdrawing the offer of employment. A month later, after Horton succeeded in tracking down his academic records and noticing that the MGM job remained open, he contacted the Bienstock’s, but was informed they were considering other candidates.

Lambda Legal’s involvement in this case, as well as Zarda v. Altitude Express in the Second Circuit, Hively v. Ivy Tech in the Seventh Circuit, and Evans v. Georgia Regional Hospital in the Eleventh Circuit, is a part of a national effort to establish and enforce employment discrimination protection for all LGBT people and everyone living with HIV. In addition to the sexual orientation cases, these efforts include an historic win for transgender workplace rights in Glenn v. Brumby and the current lawsuit Karnoski v. Trump challenging the ban on transgender troops. The current cases are all part of Lambda Legal’s Out at Work campaign to bring awareness to LGBT people everywhere of their Title VII rights, and assert that all people have the right to a job with dignity, free from repercussions for who they are or whom they love.