Brian Gomes Deserves to Be Heard [OPINION]
New Bedford City Councilor Brian Gomes is willing to take a lie detector test to clear his name after allegations of sexual harassment cost him his job at St. Luke's Hospital in 2017 after 29 years. Gomes says he was unfairly terminated and wants a chance to be heard. His $1.5 million wrongful termination civil suit against the Southcoast Hospitals Group was dismissed this week on a technicality, preventing him from telling his story to a jury.
Why shouldn't Gomes be allowed to tell his story?
I don't know whether Brian Gomes sexually harassed anyone at St. Luke's Hospital. I wasn't there and neither were you. I do know that after 29 years with a company, an employee should have an opportunity to present his or her case somewhere and be properly compensated if, in fact, the dismissal was unfair.
When you work for companies such as Southcoast, you work at their pleasure. There is no contract and they can dismiss you at any time and for almost any reason. As you are being unceremoniously escorted out the front door, you are often told that to receive severance pay you must sign a non-disclosure agreement agreeing not to discuss your firing publically. With rent to pay and food to buy, what choice do you have?
Gomes says his suit is not about the money but about clearing his name. He has never been charged with a crime or tried in a court before a jury of his peers, yet his name has been sullied and it has had an impact on his political career.
Let's say for a minute, just for giggles, that Gomes didn't that of which he is accused. Where does he go to get his reputation back? How does he clear his name if no one wants to give him a chance to tell his story? Should a company be able to force you to sign an NDA in order to receive severance?
A person's reputation is everything. Give Gomes a chance to defend his.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.