A gay man says he was unfairly fired from a New Jersey hospital because of his sexual orientation and nontraditional appearance.
Stephen Kunkle was hired as a registrar in the emergency room at Cooper University Health Center in 2011. Three years later, he was promoted to clinical operations coordinator. That’s when, Kunkle says, his manager began treating him with “unwarranted disdain.”
According to Kunkle, his female supervisor told him he wore “too much makeup and perfume,” and the administration felt “men should not wear makeup.” Another employee would also allegedly taunt him, saying “we’re all ladies here.”
At one point he was placed on a performance review plan and in 2015, Kunkle was dismissed from Cooper Health. Administrators maintain he falsified documents but, in a lawsuit, Kunkle says he was terminated just days after filing a formal discrimination complaint.
He is suing the hospital for compensatory and punitive damages, claiming to have suffered emotional distress, shame and low self-esteem after his firing.
Cooper Health stands by its decision to terminate Kunkle.
“His claims of discrimination are totally without merit,” a hospital spokesperson told NJ.com.