Wednesday, October 9, 2013

California agency using the services of NARTH co-founder Benjamin Kaufman

Disabled by virtue of sexual orientation?

According to a suit filed in California, Nicholas Berger, a gay employee of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was referred to Benjamin Kaufman after Berger complained of a toxic work environment. Kaufman is one of the co-founders of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). NARTH is at the very center of anti-gay pseudoscience.

According to Berger, he has been working for CARB as an air pollution specialist for 12 years and has had annual reviews indicating that he always met or exceeded expectations. Everything changed for Berger when he was transferred to a different unit in 2011. According to Berger he endured months of anti-gay harassment. When Berger sent an email to a co-worker asking him to stop creating a toxic work environment, the email was referred to the human resources department. Thereupon, Berger was placed on paid leave.

To return to work, Berger was required to submit to a fitness exam by Dr. Kaufman who is, perhaps, the last person who should evaluate the fitness of a gay employee. Kaufman did clear Berger for work. Berger encountered a dramatically more hostile work environment. Berger complained, was placed on leave and, again, was required to obtain the approval of Kaufman to return to work. This time Kaufman claimed that Berger was unfit, required psychotropic drugs and psychiatric therapy. Berger saw another psychiatrist independently who claimed that Berger was fit for work. Nevertheless, CARB considers Berger now disabled.

Regardless of the merits of the litigation, I want to know how the State of California submits the fitness of a gay employee to Benjamin Kaufman (of all people). Moreover, exactly why is a state agency using the services of this crackpot in the first place?
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