AG permits release of recordings in AT&T NDO complaint

The state Attorney General has ruled that audio recordings in a nondiscrimination claim against AT&T can be released to the public.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot’s office has ruled that audio recordings submitted by a transgender man in his nondiscrimination claim against AT&T can be released to the public.

The recordings are among documents submitted to the City of San Antonio by Matthew Hileman and his attorney Justin Nichols in support of Hileman’s claim that he was unfairly fired by AT&T.

While working at AT&T, Hileman says he overheard fellow employees say they would use violence if they found a trans person in the restroom, he was outed to his co-workers and he came to work one day to find a sign on his chair that had a “no fags” symbol on it.

AT&T had petitioned the attorney general to prevent the release of audio files.  However, the attorney general found, “upon review…AT&T has not established either [federal or state law] has been violated.”

Last July, Sam Sanchez from Out in SA and Texas Public Radio reporter Ryan Loyd filed separate Open Records Requests asking the city to release the recordings along with all the other documentation submitted by Hileman.

The six recordings Hileman submitted to the city are on a compact disk. The files include a conversation between two AT&T employees and recordings of voice mails from Hileman’s supervisors.

The city released about 44 pages of printed documents including affidavits, copies of emails, Hileman’s sworn statement and a copy of his complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. However, the city attorney’s office said it wanted to get an opinion from the Attorney General’s office to see if it was required to release the recordings.

In a letter to the media, attorney Nichols writes,

Needless to say, Mr. Hileman is thrilled the attorney general ruled in favor of transparency – which is essential to effective administration of the NDO.  To date AT&T has dismissed the recordings as illegally obtained, and therefore irrelevant; but, the AG’s ruling demonstrates AT&T has not made the case to support its arguments, and the recordings should be released to the public.  We call on AT&T to finally address the substance of the recordings, and to stop trying to shield its employees from their homo/transphobic comments.

The release of the recordings is something of an anti-climax considering that on September 5,  Hileman gave the San Antonio Current one of the recordings which, if authentic, confirms the claims he made about a hostile workplace.

The recordings, which are are not high quality, feature two men discussing the (nondiscrimination) ordinance, which was set to be voted on by City Council the next day. The two men can be heard talking about the men’s bathroom code. ‘You’re in the restroom; we follow the code man.’ They also discuss their thoughts on a transgender man’s body. ‘It would be just be looking more like man boobs, kind of like some fat dude.’ . . One of the men mentions how a transgender man in the men’s restroom might be subject to an ‘ass whooping.’

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