In this case we represented a transgender woman who worked in a warehouse for a large company. Our client had a traditionally feminine name; we’ll call her Jane here but that is not her real name. When Jane was born, she was deemed male. It became apparent when Jane was relatively young that she was transgender and, as such, she went through a process to change her physical appearance so that it matched her female gender identity. By the time she was an adult, the process of changing her physical appearance to match her female gender identity was complete.
When Jane was born, she was given a traditionally male name. We’ll say that name was Joe. While Jane used the name ‘Jane’ in her everyday life, she never asked the various government entities that recorded her name, such as the Social Security Administration, to change her name from ‘Joe’ to ‘Jane.’ Consequently, when an employer hired Jane, human resources often became aware that she was transgender.
When the company at issue in this case hired Jane, she told human resources (HR) that she was transgender and she wanted people to call her Jane. Despite her request, the company printed her company I.D. badge with the name “Joe.” Jane immediately asked HR to change the name on her I.D. badge but they refused to do that before she was required to start working. As a result, soon after her employment began, all of her new co-workers and supervisors became aware that she was a transgender woman.
While some of Jane’s new co-workers and supervisors treated her well, a group of co-workers and supervisors harassed Jane because she was transgender. Jane’s harassers would call her names like “it,” make crude comments about her body, and ask her degrading questions about her genitalia. Some of the harassers punctuated their harassment with violent threats which often centered around Jane’s use of the women’s restroom.
Jane complained to her managers about the harassment. These managers did not act immediately to stop the harassment and when they eventually did take action, it was too little and too late. Jane continued to complain about the ongoing harassment, and some of her co-workers also complained on her behalf, but the managers refused to do anything more to try to help Jane. Jane also complained to HR but her complaints were ignored for months until eventually HR conducted an investigation and some of Jane’s harassers were fired but others were not. After this, Jane experienced retaliation from co-workers and the violent threats continued.
Jane eventually had to resign from this job because of the harassment and retaliation. The violent threats, in particular, became increasingly scary and Jane feared that someone would hurt her.
Jane filed a lawsuit against the company and we represented her in that case. One thing that helped Jane’s case was that a group of her former co-workers stood by her. They were willing to tell the truth about the harassment Jane experienced and how the company did not do enough to protect her. Workers are often afraid to call out their employers when they witness something illegal because of the risk of retaliation. But this group of former co-workers were willing to take that risk because, in their view, what happened to Jane was so wrong.
After we created a strong factual record to support Jane’s claims, the company agreed to submit the case to mediation. At the mediation, we obtained a favorable settlement for Jane.
If you have experienced harassment because you are transgender, call the Employee Rights Group at 833.365.2929. We may be able to help you.