Alphonso David, Former President Of The Human Rights Campaign, Files Lawsuit Against The Organization

Alphonso David, the former president of the Human Rights Campaign, sued the organization in federal court on Thursday, alleging that he was underpaid and terminated “because he is Black.” David, who served as HRC’s first Black leader for more than two years, said the organization has a “reputation for unequal treatment of its non-white employees.”

According to NBC News, the former leader of the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group was fired in September. His termination came after he allegedly helped “discredit” a sexual harassment accuser of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Attorney General Letitia James released a report to reveal the accusations against David, who served as Cuomo’s chief counsel from 2015 to 2019. David denied the allegations.

Filing his lawsuit  in the Eastern District of New York, David said the HRC “maintained discriminatory employment practices.” According to the lawsuit, HRC board members discussed the former president’s contract renewal and “acknowledged” that he was paid less than his white predecessor “because of his race.” David also said the organization repeatedly discouraged him from discussing race in public.

In one instance, according to the complaint, a “prominent” white board member confronted David in front of other HRC staffers after he gave a speech on race. 

“We all know you’re Black, why do you keep telling us that?” the board member allegedly said. 

Chris Speron, a senior executive, is also accused of criticizing David for issuing a statement on the HRC’s behalf to express support of the Black Lives Matter movement during the 2020 protests, NPR reports. Speron allegedly expressed concern about “alienating” white donors, specifically “white gay men.”

The same executive is accused of pressuring David to change his bio on the group’s website, allegedly telling him to stop identifying himself as the group’s first Black president.

Adding to the accusations against Speron, David said the executive “expressed displeasure about hiring a Black-owned consulting firm.”

“He criticized a Black staff member for attending a meeting with the consulting firm without a white person present,” the lawsuit states.

Speron, according to the suit, was worried about what happens “when Black people get together like that.”

“It will be just like all the Black people looking out for each other. I don’t want them to not perform because they think that just because you are Black you are going to bail them out,” the executive said, according to David.

HRC’s interim president, Joni Madison, said the lawsuit is “riddled with untruths.”

“Mr. David’s actions as detailed in the NY State Attorney General’s report were a painful revelation, particularly because so many members of the LGBTQ+ community are survivors of assault and harassment themselves,” Madison said in a statement. “Moving forward, we will not be distracted and will remain focused on our critical work to bring full equality and liberation to LGBTQ+ people everywhere, especially for the most marginalized people in our community.” 

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