Mexico: Coca Cola FEMSA Executive Harassed and Forced to Submit His Resignation For Being Out As Gay

After coming out as gay, Roberto Mendoza, who worked as a Coca Cola FEMSA executive in Mexico and Costa Rica for seven years, was abused, threatened and harassed to the point of being forced to submit his resignation. Mr. Mendoza is currently challenging Coca Cola FEMSA before the Mexican Council Against Discrimination, under the Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination- a law that explicitly protects against discrimination based on “sexual preferences”.

IGLHRC joins Roberto Mendoza to request letters addressed to the relevant authorities demanding that Coca Cola FEMSA rectifies its behavior and include protections for sexual orientation- based discrimination in its workplace policies and practices.

A sample letter can be found below.

Please send your letters to:

PROCURADURIA GENERAL DE JUSTICIA DEL DISTRITO FEDERAL (Mexico City Attorney General’s Office)
Subprocuraduría de Averiguaciones Previas Centrales
Lic. Renato Sales Heredia
Gabriel Hernández # 56, 2°. piso,
Col. Doctores, c.p. 06720, México D.F.
hstanfordbest@yahoo.com.mx
http://www.pgjdf.gob.mx/visitaduria/QUEJAS/DEFAULT.HTM

And a copy to :

THE COCA COLA COMPANY
The Coca Cola Company
Office of the Secretary of the Board of Directors
PO BOX 1734
Atlanta GA. 30301
USA
Lee Winfield
Director, Media Relations
Tel.: (1 404) 676 2121
Fax: (1 404) 515 6428
pressinquiries@na.ko.com
Rodrigo Calderon
VP, Public Affaire & Communications
Coca Cola Latin America
Tel.: (52 55) 5262 2381
Fax: (52 55) 5262 2011
rcalderon@la.ko.com
jcasimiro@la.ko.com
FEMSA
Ing. Jaime Toussaint Elosúa
Communications and External Relations
Tel.: (52 81) 8328 6202
Fax: (52 81) 8328 6117
comunicacion@femsa.com
COCA COLA FEMSA
Lic. Carlos Salazar Lomelin
Executive President
Tel.: (52 55) 5081 5102
Fax: (52 55) 5292 3475
krelations@kof.com.mx
CONAPRED
Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (National Council to Prevent Discrimination)
Dante 14
Colonia Anzures,
11590 México DF
Dirección General Adjunta de Quejas y Reclamaciones (Complaints and Appeals)
quejasyr@conapred.org.mx
Dirección General Adjunta de Vinculación, Programas Educativos y Divulgación (Educational Programs and Outreach)
vinculacionyd@conapred.org.mx
Ing. Roberto Mendoza
ccdiscrimina@aol.com

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Sirs,

We are writing to you to express our concern regarding the discriminatory situation faced by Mr. Roberto Mendoza while working for Coca-Cola FEMSA. The corporation as a whole, and the Corporate Director for Human Resources, Mr. Eulalio Cerda Delgadillo, in particular, kept Mr. Mendoza from being promoted to higher positions due to his sexual preferences.

Seven years ago, Mr. Roberto Mendoza was hired by Coca Cola FEMSA to develop the Packaging area. Since then, he held four positions, including serving as Supplies Manager in Mexico. He has proven an instrumental part in developing New Projects and in operations abroad.

On July 2003, Mr. Mendoza was appointed Supplies Manager for the Latin-centro Division, based in San Jose, Costa Rica. As required by his new position, Mr. Mendoza moved to San Jose. He did so with the man who had been his partner for 5 years. It was then at this point that Mr. Mendoza made the decision to come out about his same-sex relationship and introduced his partners to his co-workers.

Some time after his disclosure, Mr. Mendoza was instructed to return to corporate headquarters in Mexico City, on the premise that his work in San Jose was sufficiently executed. He was requested to go back to the corporate headquarters in Mexico City. At this point he was told that the only available position was as Packing Manager. Even though was a significant step down in his career-- to go essentially a demotion to a position six and a half years back in his career--Mr. Mendoza accepted the new position, but only after he was told that he had been denied the position of Technological Development Director- the logical next step ahead in his career- for being homosexual. Mr. Eulalio Cerda Delgadillo, Human Resources Director, said at an Executives Meeting: “... as long as I am responsible for Human Resources in Coca Cola FEMSA, I will not have a faggot as Director” (“… mientras yo sea responsable de recursos humanos en Coca Cola FEMSA, no tendré un PUTO como Director en ella”).

In spite of everything, Mr. Mendoza did not submit his resignation, he was told that his salary would be reduced to 32% o fhis current salary. At the same time, Mr. Mendoza was being harassed at the workplace, questioned for his every move and decision, and unreasonably questioned. Finally, on October 12, he was fired – a move that was later made to look like a resignation.

In response, Mr. Mendoza submitted a complaint before CONAPRED – National Council to Prevent Discrimination. As required by the Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination, Coca Cola was presented with the option to enter into a mediation process and was offered sensitivity training on diversity. The company refused both options, and has even subsequently denied ever having had Mr. Mendoza as an employee.

We trust your commitment to prevent and eliminate discrimination everywhere, including the corporate world. For that reason, we ask you to exhort Coca Cola FEMSA to rectify its behaviour and effectively eradicate discrimination from its workplace policies and practices. By doing so, the body you preside over will fulfil its commitment to build a society that is inclusive and respectful of human rights, both in the public and private sectors.

Yours truly,
(Name, organization, address)

BACKGROUND

On February 8, 2004, Mr. Roberto Mendoza submitted a complaint before the Mexico City Attorney’s General Office and on May 2, 2005 before the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED), as well as suing Coca Cola FEMSA before the Mexico City XIII Civil Court. On May 10, 2005.

Coca Cola FEMSA has tried to stop Mr. Mendoza in many ways, and the corporation has threatened CONAPRED with legal actions.

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Right to be free from discrimination and to equality before the law: Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Articles 2 and 7), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 2), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 2 and 26) and Interamerican Human Rights Convention (Articles 1 and 24).

Right to Work: UDHR (Article 23), PIDESC (Articles 6 and 7) and IAHRC (Article 15).

Right to Privacy: UDHR (Article 12), ICCPR (Articles 17) and IAHRC (Article 11).

Right to Freedom of Expression: UDHR (Article 19), ICCPR (Article 18), and IAHRC (Article 13).

Mexican Federal Law to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination forbids discrimination based on “sexual preferences” on Article 4. Mexico City Penal Code also forbids it in Article 206.