Alphonso David, who was the former president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) from 2019 to 2021, has filed a lawsuit claiming he was fired because of his race.
In Septemer 2021, David was accused in a report by New York Attorney General Letitia James of helping to “discredit” a sexual harassment accuser of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. David was Cuomo’s chief counsel from 2015 to 2019. David denied any wrongdoing and was asked to resign from HRC but he refused. He was then fired.
According to the 16-page lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of New York, David accuses HRC of maintaining “discriminatory employment practices" and claims board members "acknowledged" that he was underpaid in comparison to his white predecessor "because of his race." David also alleges that he was told to stop publicly mentioning race so much, especially during the summer 2020 protests, because it would have turned off wealthy, white, gay male donors.
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David said in an interview with The Washington Post, “I had to challenge a system and a pattern of bias that has not only affected me, but it has affected way too many Black and Brown people. Discrimination and bias are rife within HRC. And I’m just the latest person to be affected.”
He also added, “I’m hoping that we peel back the onion and find some sunlight,” he said. “I’m hoping that we recognize that institutions that purported to represent all members of our community actually have to do just that.”
HRC said in a statement, “Mr. David’s complaint is riddled with untruths. We are confident through the legal process that it will be apparent that Mr. David’s termination was based on clear violations of his contract and HRC’s mission, and as president of HRC, he was treated fairly and equally.”
The statement continued, "Notably, some of the individuals he accuses of discriminatory behavior are people of color and champions of racial equity and inclusion who provided support and guidance as Mr. David led the organization.”
David’s complaint is asking for punitive and compensatory damages and to be reinstated as president of HRC.