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(Belleville, Illinois: April 17, 2019) —Oral arguments were presented today before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, Missouri, on behalf of Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd., client Mark Horton in a landmark case addressing LGBT employment rights. Horton, who is legally married to another man, accepted a job offer as a health care sales specialist with St. Louis-based Midwest Geriatric Management (MGM). When MGM discovered that Horton was gay, they withdrew his offer of employment.

Attorneys Mark S. Schuver and Natalie T. Lorenz of Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd. represent Horton in the lawsuit, which was originally filed in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. They are joined by Gregory R. Nevins, Senior Counsel for Lambda Legal.

In February of 2016, Horton, then vice president for sales and marketing for Celtic Healthcare, was approached by an executive search firm hired by MGM, a Celtic Healthcare competitor, to fill a similar position. Although Horton was not actively looking to leave Celtic at the time, MGM’s representative persuaded him that it would be worth his while, so Horton went through the application process. After an extensive assessment and interview process, Horton received a written job offer from MGM’s owners, Judah and Faigie (Faye) Bienstock. Horton accepted the offer on May 4 and received an enthusiastic reply email from Faye Bienstock welcoming Horton to MGM. Based upon both the written offer and the enthusiastic reply, Horton notified Celtic Healthcare that he would be leaving.

In the course of finalizing his start date and tracking the last remaining academic records for MGM’s background check, Horton had several communications with Faye Bienstock, none of which indicated any issue. Then, on May 17, in an email updating Bienstock on the status of the academic records search, Horton revealed that he was in a same-sex relationship when he wrote: “My partner has been on me about [my MBA] since he completed his PhD a while back.” Five days later, without offering any explanation, Bienstock wrote Horton withdrawing the offer of employment.
“Midwest Geriatric Management basically ended my career,” Horton said. “I left my previous job to accept a great offer at MGM, a position that I had been recruited for. When MGM rescinded the offer, suddenly I was jobless. I am still trying to put the pieces back together. Being able to be open and bring my whole self to my work has been an asset, and I have the track record to prove it.”

“This should never have happened,” MMR shareholder Mark Schuver said. “Mark Horton was not actively looking to leave Celtic Healthcare; MGM recruited him. And it was only after receiving the written offer and the enthusiastic emails that he notified Celtic he was leaving. And he was certainly not hiding his sexual orientation, nor should he have to. Mark Horton is legally married to his spouse, and that marriage is recognized under the laws of every state in the country. Fairness and justice dictate that Mark Horton should not be fired from his employment for being legally married to another man. This has been devastating for Mark and his family. We hope that the Eighth Circuit will follow the examples recently set by the Second and Seventh Circuits and confirm that Title VII protects employees no matter who they love, who they decide to marry or how they identify.”

“We are proud to be part of the team handling this matter for Mark Horton, and it is our hope that our work will lead to equality in the workplace nationwide,” said MMR attorney Natalie Lorenz. “Momentum is gaining on this issue, and we believe the time has come to make clear that this nation values equal rights for all, regardless of sexuality or deviation from stereotypical female or male behaviors. Diversity in the workplace enhances performance, and singling out individuals to suffer adverse employment decisions on the basis of their sexuality is counterproductive to the good of the nation’s workforce and its citizens as a whole.”

Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Gregory R. Nevins presented the oral argument on behalf of Horton before a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 17, 2018. He was joined by Gail S. Coleman, counsel for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who filed an Amicus Curiae brief in support of Horton. Previously, Nevins had successfully argued Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College, 853 F.3d 339 (7th Cir. 2017) (en banc), which was the first federal appellate court ruling in the nation holding that Title VII covers sexual orientation discrimination. Nevins followed this success with Zarda v. Altitude Express, No. 15-3775, 2018 WL 1040820 (2d Cir., Feb. 26, 2018), the second federal appellate court ruling in the nation that Title VII covers sexual orientation discrimination. A win before the Eighth Circuit in Horton would represent the third federal appellate court, out of a total of thirteen, to recognize that employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is unlawful under Title VII.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan and Sharon M. McGowan, attorneys for Lambda Legal, also provided critical support in presenting this appeal to the Eighth Circuit.
The case is Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management. Contact Mark Schuver about this case at (618) 234 – 9800 or

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