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delfin bautista poses for a portrait in Ohio University’s LGBT Center. (FILE)

Former LGBT Center director sues OU for discrimination

Former director of Ohio University’s LGBT Center delfin bautista filed two lawsuits against Ohio University, alleging the university discriminated against them based on gender identity and sexual orientation, and unfairly required them to pay back work expenses.

bautista uses they/them pronouns and does not capitalize their name.

The first lawsuit was filed Sunday in the Southern District Court of Ohio by Athens-based lawyer Michael Fradin. The lawsuit alleges the university and its vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, Gigi Secuban, violated Title IX through creating a hostile work environment.

The suit also alleges bautista’s claims of discrimination, based on their gender identity and sexual orientation, were not taken seriously by the university.

The suit alleges Secuban, who was hired in 2018, treated bautista unfairly in comparison to other offices within the division of Diversity and Inclusion. 

Within a two month span, Secuban only visited the center three times, according to the suit. She would often not stay long and rejected being introduced to other staff members and students in the center.

“Secuban ignored Plaintiff bautista and the LGBT Center except when there was an opportunity to chastise, castigate, intimidate or discipline Plaintiff bautista,” according to the suit.

When Secuban did visit the center, it was often “surprise” visits that other centers were not subject to, the suit alleges. There was always an HR representative present at bautista’s meetings with Secuban. No other centers had HR representatives present at their meetings, according to the suit.

bautista was also the only Diversity and Inclusion director to be audited by the university. They were never given a copy of the audit until The Post published it, and discrepancies in the audit were allegedly found.

“Books, furniture, and other miscellaneous items were included in Plaintiff bautista’s audit, while such items were not included in other Directors’ audits,” according to the suit.

Secuban often mis-gendered, mis-pronounced and dead-named bautista and others who worked at and frequented the LGBT Center. 

The suit also claims the univeristy was indifferent to Secuban’s discrimination.

bautista, who was removed from their position Jan. 10, 2019, first filed a discrimination complaint against Secuban on or about Sept. 25, 2018. The suit was submitted to OU’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, or ECRC, and compared Secuban’s treatment of bautista to other center directors. 

bautista submitted a second complaint to the ECRC around Oct. 3, 2018. In that complaint, they alleged Secuban’s treatment had “become more intense,” according to the suit. 

In those complaints, bautista said they wondered whether the discrimination was because they are Latinx or because Secuban perceived them as male, according to a previous Post report.

An investigator from the ECRC found that bautista’s complaint did not meet OU’s definition of discrimination or harassment, according to that same Post report. 

bautista demands a trial by jury and compensation for unpaid wages, among other items, according to the suit.

The second suit was filed by Fradin on Monday in the Ohio Court of Claims. It alleges the university broke U.S. labor laws and other Ohio laws.

This is a class action suit expected to represent 40 or more university employees, according to the suit. 

bautista, and similarly ranked employees who would be eligible to join the suit, were “frequently forced” to pay back sales taxes, business meal expenses and travel insurance expenses made using OU Purchasing Cards, according to the suit. 

bautista was also mandated to pay back money spent on tips for business meals, office snacks and business travel insurance. The purchases were all work-related, which made pay-backs “an illegal reduction of Plaintiff bautista’s salary,” according to the suit.

The suit also alleges that bautista was not paid overtime despite working over maximum weekly hours due to their position being classified as “overtime exempt.”

National labor laws state “an employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed,” according to the suit. 

Because bautista was ordered to pay back some work-related expenses, they are being subjected to a salary reduction and therefore were “incorrectly classified as an … overtime exempt employee.”

The suit seeks compensation for those lost overtime wages for bautista and other members of the class action, according to the suit.


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