Human Rights Campaign settles discrimination lawsuit from its first Black president

The LGBTQ advocacy organization fired Alphonso David in 2021 after the revelation that he had advised Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration on handling sexual harassment claims.

The largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the nation settled a lawsuit with its first Black president, who sued the organization for racial discrimination.

According to The New York Times, Alphonso David alleged in a lawsuit filed last spring that the Human Rights Campaign’s board fired him because of his race. He claimed a “toxic workplace” where, before his appointment, “nonwhite staffers were marginalized, tokenized, and denied advancement to high-level positions” and said he received less pay than his white predecessor.

HRC rebutted those accusations in papers submitted to a federal court, claiming that David made up the claims of racial bias rather than accept responsibility for his actions that fell short of the organization’s values and mission.

Alphonso David, who was fired as president of the Human Rights Campaign, is shown in February 2020 at a Democratic presidential primary debate watch party at Las Vegas LGBT Center. The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the nation, recently settled a racial discrimination lawsuit David filed. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The organization fired David in 2021 following information disclosed in a report by New York Attorney General Letitia Wright that he provided guidance to then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration on handling sexual harassment accusations that eventually ended his political career.

The report revealed that David, a former attorney for Cuomo, gave the embattled leader’s communications team a memo holding private information about Lindsey Boylan, his first accuser, including her job history, theGrio previously shared.

David, who also allegedly edited a letter aimed to discredit Boylan, said he had a duty as a lawyer to share the information, even though he was no longer working for Cuomo then.

However, the report’s revelations infuriated some HRC members, who harshly criticized David for helping Cuomo “discredit, silence, and/or intimidate” his victims and maintained that his dismissal had nothing to do with race, according to The Times.

Cuomo ultimately resigned due to the report’s findings, which included evidence of 11 allegations of harassment and a hostile work climate.

David is now the president and chief executive officer of the Global Black Economic Forum, an organization that touts a commitment to enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the corporate world. Kelley Robinson became the first Black woman to lead HRC following his firing.

In a joint statement released Wednesday, noted The Times, David and HRC said it was a mutual agreement and in the best interests of themselves and the communities they serve to settle the lawsuit, the terms of which are confidential, and “put this matter behind them.”

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