Gilead Employee Alleges Race, Sexual Orientation Discrimination After Being Labeled “Embarrassment”

On Monday, a lawsuit was filed against Gilead Sciences Inc. by one of their employees in the District of Columbia District Court, alleging that Gilead discriminated against plaintiff Jabari Brutton-Barrett on the basis of race and sexual orientation. According to the complaint, the selecting official for a director role said that he wanted a “non-black non-gay” person for the job.

Barrett, who had been working at the company for six years as a community liaison in the company’s commercial division, reached out to the company in June 2019 to inquire about a newly made position within the company, Director of Corporate Contributions. The Job had not been officially posted yet, but the plaintiff felt as if he had plenty of qualifications for the position.

In January of 2019, Barrett found that former Vice President of Government Affairs Patrick McGovern had chosen another man for the position. Barrett, a black homosexual man, was confused about why he had not received an offer for the position considering he was more qualified than the candidate who was offered the job. He suspected that his missed opportunity was not based on his qualifications or job performance, but on other factors.

At the end of January, Barrett wrote the Gilead’s human resource group and voiced his suspicions about the company’s biased hiring practices. This prompted an internal investigation within the company. At the conclusion of this investigation a couple months later, Barrett was informed by his supervisor that McGovern  believed Barrett was “too gay” and an “embarrassment.” The man who was eventually selected for the position was of a different race and sexual orientation than the plaintiff.

Despite  being  qualified  for  the  position,  the plaintiff said he was unfairly denied  the promotion due to his race and sexual orientation. The plaintiff requested that the court enter a permanent injunction directing Gilead to take all affirmative steps necessary to remedy the effects of the conduct described and to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

The plaintiff is represented by Tully Rinckey.