Vanderbilt Law Review


Marie E. Peluso

First Page



Consider the following scenario: Jerry, an outstanding graduate of Superior University's business school, has worked for Moneytree & Cashdollar, a prestigious investment banking firm, for three years. In that period, Jerry's hard work and keen instincts helped increase Moneytree's revenues by several million dollars. In addition, Jerry received two awards for landing important new clients. The firm's managing partners have discussed promoting Jerry to junior vice president, an executive position typically reserved for qualified fifth year employees. Jerry's supervisors and peers enthusiastically commend his dedication and skill. Two weeks before the vote on his promotion, Jerry lured a particularly valuable client away from a competing firm, thus all but ensuring his ascent to junior vice president. The partners consider Jerry the consummate candidate. Unbeknownst to the partners, Jerry is also a homosexual.

One week prior to the vote, Moneytree's personnel director sat down with Jerry to explain the potential changes in his benefits package. Jerry knew that some companies offer benefits to their employees' same-sex partners and inquired whether Moneytree would do the same. Visibly shocked, the director explained that the firm never had considered such an option. Jerry did not push the issue. After Jerry left his office, however, the director immediately phoned a managing partner and informed him of Jerry's inquiry. Both agreed that Jerry's homosexuality presented a problem. The partner called a board meeting, and the board decided that promoting Jerry to an executive position would be disadvantageous to the firm. The partners informed Jerry of their decision, citing his "unacceptable lifestyle." Jerry argued that his sexual orientation had nothing to do with his work and never had affected his professional relationships. Despite Jerry's protests, the partners re- fused to reconsider their position.