This week read about Augusto Penaranda, Jr. becoming the first LGBT executive director of the chamber of commerce in New Jersey, and a judge ruling against gay officers in Michigan.

First LGBT Man Appointed as Executive Director of Chamber of Commerce

The New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announced that Augusto Penaranda, Jr. will be the chamber’s next executive director. This will make Penaranda Jr. the first LGBT and Latino man to hold the position. The chamber is a business organization that aims to better the quality of life of local LGBT professionals and businesses.

As the director, Penaranda, Jr. will be setting agendas with the main goal of holding Governor Phil Murphy accountable to the commitments made to the LGBT community, Al Dia reported.

He previously worked as the chief external relations officer for the American Red Cross of New Jersey and as a public information officer for the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs. While with the American Red Cross, he worked as a bilingual communicator and disaster volunteer in Florida and Texas for Hurricane Irma and Harvey relief.

“We are very excited to welcome Augusto Penaranda as the Chamber’s first executive director. The board has great confidence in his ability to help persuade Governor Murphy’s team to build greater economic opportunities for the LGBT community,” Stephen Blazejewski, president of the NJ LGBT Chamber of Commerce, told Insider NJ.

Judge Rules Against Gay Officers in Lawsuit

officers

Michigan Department of Corrections. Photo via Facebook.

On Jan. 7, a federal judge ruled against the gay security officers who filed a discrimination lawsuit in 2020.

The lawsuit alleged that for years, Officer Michelle Wood was called homophobic names, taunted, was denied promotion, and was subject to retaliation after filing a complaint about her treatment. Sgt. Loretta Smith, Wood’s partner, also alleged that she endured hostile treatments and was demoted in retaliation for Wood’s complaints, Detroit Free Press reported.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said in her ruling that many of the women’s claims were either past the statute of limitations or were unproven.

Wood said a supervisor would talk about his disgust for homosexuals and refer to her using derogatory, homophobic names. Roberts said these claims would demonstrate a hostile work environment, but Wood was not able to provide proof of these complaints.

Roberts also said that the Corrections Department was able to show a nondiscriminatory reason for Wood to be denied promotion.

"We are very disappointed by the ruling and my clients are devastated," Jonathan Marko, the Detroit attorney representing the women said. "They feel revictimized today."

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