In 1988, John Petsinger, a former military veteran who went on to a career in public service, was fired from his job from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry – the state agency that, ironically, writes the laws about how employees are to be treated by their employers. John appealed the firing again and again – to his union, to the Human Relations Commission, to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and to others, to no avail. John is still fighting against the discrimination he faced back then. He has a 4-inch-thick pile of legal actions, his attempts to set the record straight about what happened.
“I filed complaints about my supervisor, who would make public remarks about my religion and sexual orientation in front of coworkers, clients, visitors, and whoever was in the room. Ultimately I was fired for complaining about the years of public harassment. He would tell me to straighten up, get back with the Roman Catholic Church, and get married. I’m 70 years old, and I don’t want to die with PA Labor & Industry’s lies in my personnel record,” John says. “Like my mama used to tell me, ‘Don’t start it, but you damn well better finish it.’”
Photographs by Kristy Lumsden Photography