A former Compass employee and Christian ethicist is suing the real estate brokerage for alleged sexual harassment and religious discrimination after a female supervisor allegedly subjected him to “lewd sexual comments” and was allegedly “aggressive and hostile” towards him due to his religious beliefs.
According to the complaint, Compass hired Dr. Ryan Huber, an adjunct professor of ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary, at the company’s Nashville, Tennessee, office in August 2018 as a product expert who taught the company’s agents “to use Compass technology to grow their business and increase profits.”
The complaint alleges that in early 2019, a male member of the office’s leadership team told Huber that he “sounded sexy” when he took control of a particular call and that the leader was later reprimanded, but a Compass spokesperson told Inman that neither actually happened.
Also in early 2019, a female employee allegedly made obscene comments during a company happy hour that went unchecked.
In February 2020, Huber’s role changed after a company restructure and he became an agent experience manager who reported to Theresa Twa, an associate regional manager. Before Huber’s position change, he and Twa were allegedly peers and friends.
“Ms. Twa knew that Dr. Huber was a Christian who believed that sexual intercourse was sacred and to be reserved for a marital relationship,” Huber’s attorneys wrote.
“Up until Dr. Huber reported to Ms. Twa, they respected each other and their different beliefs. Both Ms. Twa and Dr. Huber have been open and public with their beliefs,” they added, pointing to tweets from a Twitter account that appeared to be devoted to Twa’s other career as a comedian. After an Inman reporter reached out to Twa through that account, the account was deleted. Twa’s LinkedIn account also appears to have been deleted.
In the summer of 2020, Huber was passed over for a promotion even though he allegedly was more qualified for the position, had been with Compass for a longer period of time and had higher performance review scores than the woman selected.
The complaint described a one-on-one coaching session in which Twa, who is also an actress, allegedly told Huber an acting teacher had once told her, “Theresa, the thing about you is, you’re very fuckable. Use that!”
“Ms. Twa continued to explain that she realized being ‘fuckable’ was a great strength for her, and she carried that forward in her career path and uses it to this day,” the complaint said.
“Ms. Twa told Dr. Huber to figure out what his ‘fuckability’ was. This offensive comment made Dr. Huber extremely uncomfortable, especially since he directly reported to Ms. Twa.”
Twa would later allegedly reference actor Jason Momoa during a team call and said she would “climb him like a tree.”
“The men on the call, including Dr. Huber, sat in uncomfortable silence after hearing the offensive comment,” the complaint said. A Compass spokesperson denied Twa made the comment.
In the fall of 2020, Twa and another Compass colleague were discussing a Supreme Court nomination when Twa allegedly confronted Huber and asked, “I know you’re religious and against abortion, but this is a very personal issue for me. … What do you want? Do you want to crawl up into my uterus (motioning her hand as if reaching into her vagina)? Is that what you want?”
In January 2021, Huber allegedly evaluated Twa as part of an annual upward performance review and said Twa “had singled him out for ‘cultural issues’.” Compass denied the review ever happened. The complaint alleges Compass fired Huber on Jan. 15, three days after he submitted his complaints about Twa, which Compass also denied.
“Dr. Huber was subject to lewd sexual comments, ridiculed for his religious beliefs, and passed over for promotion,” attorneys for Huber added. “Defendants allowed a hostile work environment to continue and terminated Plaintiff when he complained of the sexual harassment and religious discrimination he faced.”
After his termination, Huber made a deal with a real estate agent to provide consulting services for $4,000 a month. Compass allegedly pressured that agent to terminate the deal, which the agent did.
The complaint charges sexual harassment, religious discrimination and retaliation under the Tennessee Human Rights Act as well as common law tortious interference with business relations.
Twa has been a full-time Compass employee for three years and was on a Compass agent team before that, a Compass spokesperson told Inman. Twa is still employed with Compass.
In an emailed statement, the spokesperson said, “Compass takes any allegations of this nature very seriously. We first learned of the allegations from Mr. Huber’s attorney after Mr. Huber’s employment ended.
“Immediately upon learning of these claims, we retained outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation and the findings of this investigation did not corroborate Mr. Huber’s account. We look forward to defending ourselves against these meritless claims.”
Huber and Twa declined to comment.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments from Compass.