Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-08-21
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gay Chicago resident alleges discrimination by city employee
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2019-08-11

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


During the morning hours of April 25, Andersonville resident Leo Meere allegedly heard anti-LGBTQ comments from a Chicago Department of Water Management ( DWM ) employee when he was walking home from the grocery store.

Meere's neighborhood was having the water and sewer lines replaced at the time. But that morning, one of the DWM employees' cars turned the wrong way down a one way street and nearly hit Meere, he alleges.

"I yelled out, 'Hey buddy, it is a one-way street,'" Meere told Windy City Times ( WCT ). "The driver responded, 'Fuck off, homo. I am working here.' As the car got closer, I could see the driver was wearing a yellow vest like the other city employees doing sewer line work on my block. I said, 'You still have to follow the law. You almost hit me.' He said, 'Who are you to tell me what to do? It is people like you who are what's wrong with this country.'"

Meere took a picture of the DWM employee's car, which was parked in the wrong direction, to document the alleged incident. The vanity license plate had the person's initials and last name on it. Meere said the DWM employee got out of his car and started following him down the alley toward his apartment. Meere hurried to his door because he did not feel safe anymore.

The first thing Meere did was call former 40th Ward Ald. Patrick O'Connor's office to report the alleged incident. They asked that he email the details to them.

"It became obvious that no one in O'Connor's office was genuinely concerned in addressing the situation," said Meere. "Although this happened after he lost the election but before his successor Andre Vasquez was sworn in, O'Connor was still being paid by the city to do his job. It was very frustrating to be dismissed when I reached out to my elected official for help."

Meere also contacted the DWM on April 25 and left a voicemail message, but said the department never called back. It was only after posting about the alleged incident on an Andersonville neighborhood Facebook page the same day that Meere was reportedly able to speak to Vasquez ( whom he tagged in the post ) via direct message. According to Meere, Vasquez gave DWM Deputy Commissioner Julie Hernandez his contact number; he said she called him that afternoon.

"Julie left me a voice message saying she was sorry this happened, that she would look into this for me, and I would hear back from her the next day," said Meere. "She never called back, and did not return any of my calls over the course of the next two weeks."

Meere said nothing more happened until he posted about the lack of a response when someone asked him for an update on the original Facebook message. He said another concerned 40th Ward citizen called Hernandez to inquire about the DWM response after the update was posted. Meere said Hernandez left him an angry voicemail message for having people "harass her" at work, and that she had already turned the matter over to DWM Director of Administration Jackie Toledo—which Meere said was a surprise to him.

When Meere called Hernandez back, he said, she never apologized and continued to yell at him. Meere then contacted Toledo, and she told him to send her the narrative and picture. He did so immediately, and Toledo said she would phone him if she had further questions.

Meere emailed Toledo back when he did not hear from her, and said she told him the matter would be sent to the Office of the Inspector General ( OIG ). She later gave him the name of a contact there, who he said never returned his call.

When WCT contacted Toledo's office, the department responded that the incident was escalated to City of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson's office for further review. City of Chicago OIG Director of Communications and Outreach Natalie A. Kuriata told Windy City Times that complaints are reviewed and assessed according to several factors to see if they will open an investigation, refer the matter to the appropriate city department or decline to investigate. These factors include the complaints' credibility and investigative and office resources availability, among others.

"After reviewing the complaint, OIG referred it back to the DWM, where it could be more expeditiously handled," Kuriata emailed WCT. "In addition, given the nature of the complainant's allegation, OIG recommended that DWM counsel its employees on the City's Diversity and Equal Employment Opportunity ( EEO ) Policy."

"The DWM takes very seriously any allegations of discriminatory behavior on the part of our employees," DWM Media Affairs Director Megan Vidis emailed WCT. "The OIG referred this matter back to the DWM and recommended EEO counseling for the employee in question, which he has received. EEO training is mandatory for all DWM employees and addresses eliminating harassment and other types of discrimination in the workplace."

Following responses from the DWM and OIG offices, WCT reached out to Vasquez, who responded since the article initially run. "In looking at the steps that were taken and the status of it currently, I think it is absolutely fair and important to ask what accountability there is in place for our city departments," he said. "Language and vitriol like the type that was described have no place in our city or coming from our city workers. We want a government that is transparent, accessible and accountable. The neighbors in our city deserve that much, and we will continue to work toward that end."

"I did not deserve to be intimidated and verbally harassed by someone who was on the clock and being paid by my tax dollars to do a city job," said Meere. "Chicago specifically lists sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes of people, but this government employee chose to use anti-LGBTQ slurs against me and that is not right."

What disturbed Meere most was the way he was "brushed off every time I inquired about the matter. All I wanted was for them to do their jobs and they did not seem to want to help me. In the end, that was worse than what happened to me when that city employee hurled those anti-LGBTQ comments at me."

Meere said that he has only lived in Chicago for two years, and that the first time he had to directly engage with city employees he was met with hostility—which is not what he thought would happen in a "supposedly pro-LGBTQ place to live."


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Grayson Alexander talks history-making role, politics, future plans 2019-08-23 - When Grayson Alexander was growing up he never dreamed he would make history as the first out transgender person to become an Illinois ...


Gay News

Conservative donor David Koch dies at 79 2019-08-23 - Conservative billionaire David Koch—who became a household name through the policy and political empire he created with his older brother, Charles—has died at ...


Gay News

Harris, Steans talk legislative session over coffee 2019-08-22 - Two General Assembly members met with their constituents at Andersonville's First Slice Pie Cafe to discuss this year's legislative session. State Rep. Greg ...


Gay News

Powerful AIDS group may be examined for use of federal funds 2019-08-21 - California state Sen. Ben Hueso ( D-Chula Vista ) has asked state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to investigate if the AIDS Healthcare Foundation ...


Gay News

HRC releases HEI; 16 Illinois hospitals cited as leaders 2019-08-21 - The Human Rights Campaign Foundation ( HRC ) released its 12th annual Healthcare Equality Index ( HEI ), which scores healthcare facilities on ...


Gay News

Equality Illinois looks ahead with more diverse board 2019-08-21 - LGBT-rights advocacy Equality Illinois recently began its new fiscal year with a board of directors organization officials say better reflects the diversity of ...


Gay News

Michael Bauer reflects on a life of activism 2019-08-21 - Activist Michael Bauer, originally an attorney and executive who has been active in fundraising in local LGBT, Jewish and womens' communities since the ...


Gay News

WORLD Fleeing Russia, Cuban activist, UNAIDS, Magnum ad 2019-08-21 - Gay married couple Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev were forced to flee Russia over concerns their adopted children could be taken away, NewNowNext.com ...


Gay News

Pritzker bolsters Illinois Human Rights Act 2019-08-20 - On Aug. 20, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed several measures—including HB 252—which strengthens the Illinois Human Rights Act to protect employees against discrimination ...


Gay News

Reports: Teen to testify against Aurora church employee 2019-08-20 - A minor alleging that an Aurora area church employee solicited nude photos from them via Snap Chat and text messages will be allowed ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.