Banker Fired By Family ‘For Being Gay’ Awarded Millions

Stephen Habberstad gay banker fired

A banker (banking executive)  fired by his family “because he is gay” awarded  US $3.5 million (AUD $A4.6m). The largest payout in Minnesota history to one person for sexual orientation discrimination.

When Stephen Habberstad, 61, came out in his late 50s, his family did not take the news well – to put it mildly.

He landed in a divorce court, on the outer with his relatives and was fired from his job in the bargain.

Following his dismissal, his relatives – many of whom are on the board of the business – claimed he was asked to leave for financial reasons.

However, Habberstad claimed it was because of his sexual orientation and in a ruling handed down late last month, a judge agreed.

“The truth is, Stephen Habberstad was terminated due to being gay,” Judge Joseph Bueltel ruled.

Family-owned Country Bankers Inc.

Habberstad was originally the majority shareholder in the family-owned Country Bankers Inc. – a successful holding company in south-eastern Minnesota.

As part of his divorce settlement with his ex-wife, he gave her a portion of his shares. This resulted in him losing majority control.

Subsequently, his ex-wife and sister united to take charge of the boardroom. This led ultimately culminated in Habberstad’s dismissal for his decision to come out.

The court also heard what an aunt of Habberstad’s, a fellow shareholder in the business, had said. “Needed to get his act together, get back in the closet and get back to work”.

Not only that, but Habberstad’s sister sent an e-mail to his adult children, telling them.: “Your dad has lived a lie for years and years, and it has spilled over into the lives of his family, causing a lot of heartache.”

Habberstad said he didn’t realise his sister harboured those kinds of feelings.

“It really fries me… I am the same person today that I was 25 years ago,” he said.

But now Habberstad says he wants to get on with his life.

“I’m still trying to get over this, how our business was run had nothing to do with my firing.” They fired me for being gay, and it’s just totally wrong.

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Nerelle Harper

Nerelle is a contributor for QN Magazine and QNEWS Online

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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