An event planner says that his bosses cut his pay and then fired him after learning he was gay, and now he’s taking them to court.
According to court papers filed this week, Wesley Wernecke was recruited by a California-based event planning company called Eventique earlier this year. After producing events for clients like Netflix, Walt Disney Television, and the Primetime Emmy Awards, he claims he was “aggressively” recruited by the company, he says.
But only a week into the job, a coworker noted his “girly” wedding ring and asked about his wife. Wernecke — who is in a relationship with his partner, Evan — corrected them, and that’s when he says the tone around the office changed.
Wernecke claims that Eventique owner Henry “Liron” David started leaving him out of meetings, and a few months later told him that he’d be cutting his pay from $145,000 to $70,000. Wernecke’s pay was actually cut by even more, to $58,000. During that time, he began seeing a psychiatrist due to workplace-related stress.
“I couldn’t sleep at night thinking you were being paid so much more than the other females in the office,” David told him, according to the lawsuit.
Two weeks later, the company fired Wernecke, citing “errors” in his work.
“David took all these tactics to exclude Wernecke,” the lawsuit claims, “because David had already made up his mind that, despite the proficiency of Wernecke’s work, he would not accept having an openly gay man working in the office, and he intended to get rid of Wernecke. … David considered Wernecke to be a sexual deviant and unfit to work at Eventique.”
For his part, David denies the allegations. His lawyer, Gena Zaiderman, told the New York Post, “Mr. David firmly stands by his long-standing reputation for fairness and professionalism. We expect that the facts will be revealed in due course.”
Eventique was featured on the website of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce New York as recently as October 25, according to a version of the site cached by Google. But the company’s listing has since been removed from the NLCCNY site and redirected to a listing for Wernecke.