Lawsuit: Gay Miami Publix Worker Says He Was Fired After Reporting Harassment

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Publix. Photo by Dennis Jozefowicz.

A former Publix seafood handler is suing the grocery chain after he says he was fired when he complained about years of anti-gay bullying and harassment at work.

Juan Pastran, a self-described “effeminate” heavy gay man, worked at a Miami-area Publix from 1995 to 2014, Miami New Times reports. During that time, Pastran says co-workers routinely insulted him over his sexuality.

According to his lawsuit, other employees would ask him “what color panties he wore,” how often he “changed his tampon,” and would tell him to act more like a man instead of “a bitch.” He claims they called him “fag,” “old woman,” “queer,” “puta,” “panjaro” and “maricón.”

Someone allegedly hung a picture of a fat woman with Pastan’s name under it in the employee break room.

"The extremely degrading and abusive discrimination and harassment got so severe and constant that the Plaintiff would regularly cry (including during work) and have anxiety and fear during work, and was even not able to sleep, and eventually ended up having to see a physician/psychologist for treatment — and ultimately was even prescribed Xanax for the anxiety, depression, etc. caused by Defendant's conduct," the lawsuit reads.

Pastran says he tried reporting this harassment to Publix’s human resources department in 2014, but nothing changed. He then filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

When he brought the complaint to his supervisors, they became “discernibly angry and hostile” and a Publix HR rep threatened Pastran, warning him against pushing his complaint further, then fired him in April, the lawsuit alleges.

After that, Pastran filed a second complaint with the commission, writing that “to the best of my knowledge and belief, none of the individuals I complained of were disciplined or discharged. The only person affected was myself." The EEOC has not sued Publix.

Neither Pastran’s lawyer nor Publix’s spokespeople commented to the New Times about the lawsuit.

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