Straight Cop Says He's Target Of Gay Taunts

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Sponge Bob
Sponge Bob

In Wagner's opinion, the standard to bring a claim on the basis of perceived sexual orientation does not require the plaintiff to be a member of the protected class.

Brody said he and other lawyers who represent employers will be watching to see if the ruling stands. If so, he said, it could open the door for more discrimination claims in Connecticut by workers who aren't members of a protected class but whose supervisors or coworkers treat them or taunt them as if they are.

The Pullman & Comley lawyers representing Hartford in the matter did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Foley alleges that Roberts plotted with others to prevent him from being promoted to captain.

Roberts has said in previous statements that the lawsuit was filed because Foley was angry that he had been disciplined for something that happened while Foley was off-duty. According to court records, Foley was accused of breaking a table at a bar in Rocky Hill.

"It's just retaliation, as far as I'm concerned," Roberts said about the lawsuit.

Foley alleges that Roberts started calling him "Sergeant SpongeBob" beginning in 2002. Foley says the reference was to SpongeBob SquarePants, "a popular cartoon character often associated with homosexuality."

According to court records, Roberts also made "homophobic jokes on a regular basis" directed at Foley, and said that Foley had "nice hair." Roberts told Foley that his hairstyle "made me wonder about you," and said, "It makes you look like a homo," the complaint states.

When Foley showed Roberts his wedding ring in response, Roberts is accused of saying, "I don't know if you're married to a man or a woman."

Meghan Freed, vice chair of the LGBT section of the CBA, said she was not familiar with the SpongeBob reference until she recently looked it up on Google. According to media accounts, SpongeBob was linked to the gay community in 2005, when he appeared in an educational video with Miss Piggy and Oscar the Grouch singing the 1979 disco classic "We Are Family." The video was distributed to schools throughout the nation accompanied by a teaching guide to promote tolerance of diversity.

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