Tue Dec 13, 2005 - 12:15 pm EST
Costco Fires Catholic Who Denied Knights of Columbus Hall for Lesbian “Marriage”
PORT COQUITLAM, BC, November 30, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A member of the Knights of Columbus who is in charge of renting the fraternity’s hall for weddings and other events alleges he was fired from his day job at Costco for his involvement in denying two lesbians the facility for their same-sex “wedding.”Â The human rights case in which the lesbian couple successfully sued the Knights of Columbus over the denial of the hall made international headlines. (see coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/nov/05113006.html )
LESBIAN WAS A CO-WORKER WITH KNIGHT OF COLUMBUS
David Hauser told LifeSiteNews.com in an exclusive interview that Tracey Smith, one of the lesbians involved in the human rights complaint against the Knights, was also a co-worker of his at Costco. Hauser related thatÂmany of the management at the Port Coquitlam warehouse were openly homosexual. He related that for months before Smith and her same-sex partner approached his wife for the hall rental,Âsome of his co-workersÂhad been asking him about his involvement with the hall, and knew that he was in charge of bookings.
“In retrospect, they picked a time when they knew I would be at work to call my wife Sandra, who shows the hall when I am unavailable,” Hauser said. He is convinced the entire fiasco was orchestrated before the event.Â However, in the human rights complaint against the Knights the lesbian couple claimed they did not realize the hall was affiliated with the Catholic Church.
Tracey’s partner, Deborah Chymyshyn, claimed to the Vancouver Sun in November that, “If they would have let us know up front who they were, we probably would have never even gone there.”
Terry Kidwell, State Deputy of the B.C. Knights of Columbus, told LifeSiteNews.com in an interview Dec.12 that Chymyshyn “said that ‘she just happened to be driving around and saw the sign’” for the rental of the hall. “Well, that’s a dead end street,” Kidwell said. He indicated “you don’t just happen to drive around” and find that hall and that one would have to deliberately drive to that location and stop to see the small 8 1/2 X 11 sign on the door.
“You can’t see it from the street,” Kidwell stated, adding “You would have had to get out of your car and go right up to the hall to see the sign. There is not a great big sign saying, ‘hall for rent.’”
A big question therefore is how the two women would actually have known that the hall was for rent.Â
Kidwell says these questions were probably not brought up in the human rights trial against the Knights because the focus of the defence was that, “because of our core religious beliefs we were entitled to not rent the hall to them.”
Hauser said he and his wife were not initially aware of the couple’s intention to wed each other, because the two had vaguely referred to a “wedding” without saying it was their own that they were planning. Hauser did not suspect anything when he read the names on the rental agreement, because he only knew Tracey at work by her first name.
Hauser alleges, “They [Smith and Chymyshyn] knew exactly what they were doing.” The three-acre parcel where the Knight’s hall is situated is also the location of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church and Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic School. “There’s a huge cross on that Church,” Hauser said. “There’s a huge picture of the Pope in the hall . . . there’s no way they didn’t know we were connected to the Church.” (see coverage: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/dec/05120901.html )
FIRED BY HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST MANAGER
Hauser was fired from Costco November 3, 2004 - one year and two days after Smith and her same-sex partner Deborah Chymyshyn rented the hall.
Hauser’s very openly gay boss, Mike Checko,Âwho Hauser claims was a friend of Smith’s, fired Hauser. Hauser contends that his firing was completely without cause. He said his letter of release cited “violence in the workplace,” allegedly committed in early August 2004. Hauser related that he and his wife were on vacation for two weeks during the early to mid-weeks of August. Another homosexual co-worker alleged in writing that Hauser had said he wanted to meet a fellow worker outside after work for a brawl.
“The workplace was absolute trouble for me - the manager of the 225 employee Costco warehouse constantly badgered me about it [the hall issue].” Hauser said the homosexuals in management at the store “constantly tried to lure him into arguments.”
Hauser’s claims to unfair treatment are supported by other former supervisors at Costco.Â One letter, from co-worker Jared Gilles who was also Hauser’s former supervisor, dated August 4, 2004, said, “In my view, Dave was sunk before all this ever happened. Our management isn’t open and objective towards him,” Gilles explained. “They get hourly [employees] to write hearsay letters of certain instances - whether it’s true or not and whether they are witnesses or not. Dave’s guilty because he’s blacklisted. People can just write letters about people they don’t like and if management doesn’t like you, you’re in trouble. No one will support Dave’s views, whether he’s done something or not.”
“He told me to watch out because this guy was after you from the day you walked in,” Hauser added.
Events at Costco following Hauser’s firing suggest that there was some problem with the supervisor who fired Hauser.Â Checko was demoted two weeks after Hauser’s firing, “from a $120,000 per year position, to a checkout clerk,” Hauser said.
On November 23, 2004, Human Resources Canada, after initially refusing Hauser’s claim for employment insurance payments, responded to Hauser’s appeal of the refusal. After HRC asked for clarification from Costco, a letter was returned that stated a different reason for Hauser’s dismissal than the one given on his dismissal letter.
“[Costco’s] statement contradicts the letter of dismissal,” stated L. Bell, an insurance benefit officer with HRC, in a letter in Hauser’s possession. “In the letter of November 3, 2004, the employer states that the employee was dismissed because of an incident that occurred in August. The incident involved allegations of threats made by the claimant to a co-worker. The employer has not provided detail of the alleged incident.”
“Given the lack of clarification from the employer, we’ll conclude that the claimant was dismissed due to a series of minor incidents. Some of the incidents may have been genuine violations of company policy, but there is also a sense that there was some friction between the claimant and the employer. Fault is sometimes difficult to define, but it is often mutual. Clearly the employer was not happy with the claimant, and although the violations of company policy may or may not have been genuine, there is an indication that they were looking for reasons to terminate his employment. It is not even clear what the final incident was that ultimately led to the claimant’s dismissal and therefore we cannot conclusively prove there was misconduct involved in the final incident. Under the circumstances, we have no choice but to allow the claim.”
Hauser further explained that he “was fighting a 90-day demotion for allegedly driving a fork-lift at a guy’s head,” in June-August of 2004. “I should have been arrested for something like that,” Hauser said. “I got three fellows to write statements who had seen the whole thing. I then went to the regional manager, Patrick Noon - Mike Checko’s boss.”
The suspension was over-ruled by Costco’s regional office.
“The day I walked in [Checko] wanted me out,” Hauser emphasized. “It went on and on - he treated me terribly. When Hauser went into workÂthe day afterÂthe two women were told that they could not have the hall, Hauser says Checko ordered him to re-book the hall for them, stating, “Get those people back in there now!” In the end, claims Hauser, “heÂfired me for kicking them out [of the K of C hall].”
CAN’T FIND OTHER WORK WITH DISMISSAL ON RECORD - MAY LOSE HOME
Hauser said he had hoped his 14 years at Costco would lead to life-long employment. “The company is doing very well,” he said. Because of the circumstances of his firing, Hauser has been unable to find other work. “It’s hard to get a job when your reference letter says you were fired for violence in the workplace,” he said. He has focused on home painting, something he did part-time to support his stay-at-home wife and three young children before. His business is called “Passion for Painting.”
Hauser, who initially re-financed his mortgage after the job loss, faces the prospect of losing his home if nothing changes in the next few months. “It’s pretty degrading and humiliating for Sandra and I . . . and all for that cause.”
Michael A. Wagner, the lawyer representing Mike Checko, had his office call to say Checko was unable for comment.
Several calls put into Costco for comment were not returned. Calls placed to Costco’s lawyers were also not returned.
To express concerns to Costco:
General Customer Service: 800-463-3783
E-mail address: [email protected]
Costco Canada Corporate Office
Mailing address: 415 West Hunt Club Road Ottawa, ON K2E 1C5
SeeÂmost recent LifeSitenews.com stories on thisÂissue
Photos of Port Coquitlam, B.C. Knights of Columbus Hall Dispute Lesbians’ Claims
Justice in British Columbia Knights Case also Decided Against Christians Kempling, Brockie
British Columbia Lesbians Determined to Extract More From Knights of Columbus
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