A former Portland electrician has filed a federal lawsuit against the city, alleging she was fired and discriminated against for her sexual orientation by bosses who perceived her to be mentally impaired.
According to a report from The Portland Mercury, Heather Kowitz is asking the city to pay $800,000 for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, for discriminating against her because she's lesbian, and for retaliation after she filed two complaints with the state labor bureau.
Kowitz was a journeyman electrician for the city for about a year and a half. During that time, she filed two complaints with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. First in Sept. 2014, "alleging a hostile work environment, retaliation and different terms and conditions of employment based on her sexual orientation." That was dismissed a month later, and the complaint says someone at the city that day "demanded that Ms. Kowitz submit to a psychological examination as a condition of continued employment." She passed it, it says, butshe was not allowed to return to work until Jan. 2015.
She filed another complaint that month against the city "alleging unlawful discrimination based on perceived disability and on Ms. Kowtiz's opposition to unlawful employment practices." Kowitz is not actually mentally impaired, her attorney explained, "but the city perceived to her to be."