A Philadelphia resident visiting family in Pittsburgh over Thanksgiving weekend says he was subjected to antigay remarks by a staffer of the company from which he rented a car.
Kevin Hoover, 43, rented a car from an Avis dealer in Philadelphia. He was with his 73-year-old mother Nov. 28 in Pittsburgh when, he says, an Avis employee made discriminatory remarks based on Hoover’s sex and perceived sexual orientation. He has filed a complaint with the Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations.
While out shopping, Hoover noticed that the “check tire” light came on on the vehicle dashboard. Hoover did not have a tire-pressure gauge on him, nor did he know the best way to remedy the situation given that the car was not his.
He took the car to a nearby Avis, located at 625 Stanwix St., and approached a female employee inside the Avis office with his concern.
“I told her what happened, that the light on the dash came on. She told me that her manager was not here right now, but would be back soon, and would probably tell me to just go to a GetGo convenience store for air,” Hoover said. “I told her I did not have a tire gauge and did not know how much air to put in the tire.”
Then, according to Hoover, the employee went to the back of the office and started complaining to an associate about Hoover’s service request.
Hoover said the woman made remarks like, “These people are crazy,” within earshot of Hoover and his mother.
I said to her, “Excuse me, but we are standing right here and can hear you.” That’s when Hoover said the female employee told him, “Any real man would know how to put air in a car tire.”
“I told her that her remarks were discriminatory and that it is illegal to treat someone differently because of their sexual orientation in Pittsburgh.”
Pittsburgh’s nondiscrimination ordinance has included protections based on sexual orientation since 1990 and gender identity since 1997.
Hoover asked the employee for her name and she replied that it was “yo mamma.”
Then a man, whom the female employee referred to as her boss, appeared and asked what was happening, Hoover said, to which the woman replied, “These people were getting smart with me.”
Hoover said he asked to speak with the manager in private, but he refused.
“I told him that the female employee had made less-than desirable remarks, and that I was going to make a complaint. I asked if he would give me her name and he refused. He also refused to give me his name.”
He said he then told the manager that the female employee had made a homophobic remark, and he was going to make a complaint.
The manager proceeded to walk towards Hoover with his fists up and said that if Hoover did not leave he would call security, according to Hoover.
Once outside, Hoover says, he saw the female employee laughing through the window, and he gave her the middle finger, after which the manager approached him again threatening to call police if Hoover did not get in the car.
Hoover says he called Avis customer service as soon as he got into the vehicle. A customer service agent talked Hoover through the proper procedure to inflate the tire, and was apologetic for the incident Hoover relayed to him.
Hoover returned the car to a different location the next day in suburban Pittsburgh, where an employee there recommended he call the Avis district manager.
Hoover said he has been in contact with two Avis district managers. On Monday, one of the district managers told him that the male employee that allegedly threatened Hoover “is no longer there because of numerous complaints about him from other customers.” PGN was able to confirm with an Avis district manager, who asked to not be named, that the male employee is no longer working for the company but he could not confirm if he was terminated specifically because of the incident concerning Hoover.
Hoover said he was told by the district manager that the manager-in-question’s last day was Nov. 30.
However, the female employee is still working for the company. A second Avis district manager, Barb Corsi, told PGN Tuesday that the woman is still employed by Avis but, as of presstime, had not responded to questions regarding any remedial action taken against the female employee.
From our media partner PGN