Blogger says boss fired him due to assumption about homophones and homosexuality

Posted at 9:39 PM, Jul 31, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-31 23:39:21-04

PROVO, Utah -- Do you know what a homophone is? That was the question that a blogger from Provo said got him fired from his job at a learning center.

According to Tim Torkildson, his boss at Nomen Global Language Center thought the word was associated with homosexuality, so he let him go.

“I was taken by surprise when he just said, ‘You’re gone,’” Torkildson said.

A writer, Torkildson landed a position as a social media coordinator at the center in April. His job was to blog and tweet for the center, sharing educational tips, as well as information about Provo.

“I wrote about punctuation, capitalization, homonyms, homophones,” Torkildson said.

But in July, it was that last topic on the list that Torkildson said got him fired from his job. He posted a blog on the topic of homophones. The concept is defined as any words that sound the same, but have different meanings. In the post, Torkildson explained it and then gave some examples.

“This kind of condition does not exist in very many other languages,” he said. “So, it’s confusing to foreign people.”

The concept was also confusing to Torkildson’s boss, Clarke Woodger. According to Torkildson, Woodger saw the prefix “homo” and jumped to a wrong conclusion.

“He was now afraid that people would associate Nomen Global with some kind of gay agenda. That was his fear,” Torkildson said. “And he expressed his frustration to me very clearly. He just said, ‘This particular blog is the last straw.’”

Woodger declined to do an on camera interview, but did release the following statement:

“Mr. Torkildson was fired for cause. Nomen Global does not have an anti-gay agenda, nor do we discriminate against anyone. We have had 6,500 students in the last 15 years from 58 countries. We do not discriminate.”

The post, which has been deleted from the center’s website, was not intended to offend anyone, according to Torkildson.