By Amelia Robinson
The Dayton Daily News
BEAVERCREEK TWP., Ohio — The Ohio Civil Rights Commission will investigate allegations that Beavercreek Twp's assistant fiscal officer was discriminated against due to his gender.
In the May 1 complaint, James Barone says he has been subjected to a hostile work environment due to gender stereotyping since his sexual orientation was revealed to trustees and other officials in November 2008.
"I spent over $2,500 in legal fees. It's been a constant battle," said Barone, who has been a township employee since 2007. "All I've done (wrong) is exist. People have slammed doors in my face. I've been kept out of meetings and left off of emails. The mental stress has been tremendous."
Homosexuals are not protected from discrimination under Ohio law. Barone's complaint alleges he was treated unfairly because some township staffers believe he did not "behave in the manner as a male would behave."
Trustees voted Monday to take the investigation option presented by the commissioners.
The board also voted to reprimand two employees — Zoning Inspector Victoria Long and Zoning Clerk Laurie Brown — implicated in Barone's complaint as having violated township rules concerning disparaging remarks.
Barone said he overheard Trustee Carol Graff, Long and Brown lob a bevy of hateful and derogatory comments against him and elected officials fiscal officer Christy Ahrens and Trustee Dan Paxson. They were not related to sexual orientation.
Trustee Chairman Bob Glaser said Barone's gender discrimination charges would be investigated by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission's Dayton Regional Office.
Graff said she welcomes the investigation. "I think that will bring out in my mind what's true, what isn't true, and if there is an ongoing problem, where it comes from," Graff said.
Many of the issues derive from a longtime and "childish" feud between Graff's supporters and Ahrens', Glaser said. The bickering is not good for the township, he added. "There will be some reprimands (of the zoning employees) coming," he said.
"Unfortunately, we cannot reprimand elected officials."
Ahrens, Barone's boss, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Trustee Paxson said, "I hope everything is cleared up so we do not have problems like this in the future."
Barone said the problem started in earnest after his sexual orientation was revealed by Gustafson in November 2008. Barone attended a Fourth of July party at a co-workers home that year and when asked, told other partygoers which firefighters he thought attractive.
He said that months later, an executive meeting was held concerning his sexuality and the comments he'd made about the firefighters.
Barone said officials were told that there was a risk of workplace violence due to his proclamation.
Copyright 2012 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.