Tuesday, October 15, 2019

AP Analysis: Most States Lack Laws Protecting LGBT Workers

"If the Supreme Court sides against LGBT employees, it means they have to be really cautious and careful about living their lives openly and proudly," said Jillian Weiss, a New York attorney who focuses on LGBT discrimination cases. "They may encounter a lot of discrimination, and there may not be anything they can do about it."

See this link: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/10/15/us/ap-us-lgbt-discrimination.html

Thursday, August 29, 2019

10-8: how scared should we be? – Queersplaining

Callie Wright of Queersplaining Podcast interviewed me on the topic of "how scared should we be?" about the upcoming SCOTUS case on workplace sex discrimination and LGBTQ rights and I gave her my sure-to-be controversial hot take. https://ift.tt/2MIZd7p "Some important stuff is happening at The United States Supreme Court on October 8th. The question: does the 1964 Civil Rights act protect LGBTQ folks from employment discrimination. Lots of folks are pretty nervous, and I am too. So I talked to an attorney who specializes in this sort of thing and asked her what she thought. Her surprising take is that she thinks we’ll win. Listen to find out what she thinks might happen. Some important stuff is happening at The United States Supreme Court on October 8th. The question: does the 1964 Civil Rights act protect LGBTQ folks from employment discrimination. Lots of folks are pretty nervous, and I am too. So I talked to an attorney who specializes in this sort of thing and asked her what she thought. Her surprising take is that she thinks we’ll win. Listen to find out what she thinks might happen."

See this link: http://www.queersplaining.com/2019/08/29/10-8-how-scared-should-we-be/

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Virginia Schools’ Bathroom Rule Violates Transgender Rights, U.S. Judge Says

NY Times: Virginia Schools’ Bathroom Rule Violates Transgender Rights, U.S. Judge Says The ruling is an important victory for transgender rights advocates as legal battles over school bathroom policies continue to play out across the country. https://ift.tt/2GX7MXI

See this link: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/09/us/virginia-transgender-bathroom-policy.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share

Monday, July 15, 2019

'It's A Career Ender': 2 LGBTQ Former Dell Workers Share Their Stories



See this link: https://trib.al/2iMO1yE

'It's A Career Ender': 2 LGBTQ Former Dell Workers Share Their Stories

NPR Morning Edition reports on my clients' suits against computer company Dell. From NPR Morning Edition:

Helen Harris doesn't wear makeup or feminine jewelry. She mostly dresses in men's tailored suits and men's shoes. She's gender nonconforming and identifies as a woman. And, she says, that's nobody's business. Which is why in late 2015, when she started taking hormones to become more masculine looking, she did it quietly. Harris, 37, is a systems engineer who worked at Dell, selling technology to major companies and helping them set it up. But she says she had a tough time moving up at the computer company and was assigned to a lengthy training period, while colleagues were promoted. She says she got heckled by co-workers when she gave presentations. And, Harris says, one of her instructors kept telling her "people have to like you for you to be able to do this job. He kept saying stuff like that to me."

NPR spoke to four colleagues with whom Harris has worked. They described a talented young woman whose career was completely derailed a few years ago. And they, like Harris, suspect she had a tough time because of the way she looks. Article continues after sponsor message Her struggle at Dell led Harris to file a complaint with New York City's Commission on Human Rights, alleging the company didn't want to put her in front of customers because of her appearance. Dell says Harris' situation was resolved amicably. But there are at least two other cases against the company from LGBTQ workers alleging discrimination. Dell, which is an NPR sponsor, denied liability in one case. The other is ongoing.

After Harris' company merged with Dell, she and other employees were assigned to training. Harris says she was heckled by co-workers when she gave presentations. She says her colleagues who attended the training started moving up the corporate ladder, but Harris didn't. Elias Williams for NPR Harris says her problems happened around the same time her employer, EMC, was merging with Dell. In her complaint, Harris detailed how she kept being told she needed to keep on training. So she did — for three years. During that time, she says, she'd speak with managers, executives, colleagues and human resources. "What is the problem? Like, if there is a problem with me, like [with] what I'm doing, can someone please speak up?" she says she asked them.

The rights of trans and gender-nonconforming people in the U.S. are starting to get more attention. Activists say limited job opportunities and lack of clear protection from workplace discrimination have helped marginalize transgender people and hurt them financially. Over 200 companies — including Amazon, Google and Uber — have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that federal civil rights law prohibits discrimination against gay and transgender workers. The Justice Department has argued that it does not. '

 And there's this idea that the tech industry is a place where stuff like this doesn't happen: Scooter in to work and have piercings and tattoos? No problem. As long as you work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or what you look like. The diversity numbers at big tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple tell a different story. Take Facebook: Less than a quarter of tech roles there are held by women; African Americans make up only about 1%. And when you look at Dell, you get a complicated picture. Cicilia Gilbert, who was also a systems engineer at Dell, was let go in 2018, during the middle of her transition.

The company has repeatedly been ranked among the 50 best for diversity. But several current and former Dell employees, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, said the company's New York office has the reputation of being a "boys club." Cicilia Gilbert, who was also a systems engineer at Dell, says it's especially bad in the tech sales division. Gilbert, 58, is suing Dell for, among other things, allegedly discriminating against her for her gender transition. The case is ongoing. She told NPR that when she decided to transition from male to female, a trans co-worker advised her: "Don't tell these people that you're transgender. It's a career ender." In her lawsuit, Gilbert said that in late 2018, right in the middle of her transition, she was let go. "They said, 'We're laying you off because your transgender transition is impeding your ability to travel,' " she told NPR. It's not unusual for a company as large as Dell to have discrimination lawsuits.

Jennifer Davis, a spokeswoman for Dell, told NPR that Gilbert's layoff had nothing to do with her gender — it was part of a restructuring in which hundreds lost their jobs. Gilbert and her wife, Alexandra, stand in their yard in upstate New York. Gilbert is suing Dell for, among other things, allegedly discriminating against her for her gender transition. The case is ongoing. And Davis pointed to the company's support network for trans employees. NPR spoke to two workers who say the extensive medical coverage and support Dell offers made their gender transition possible. They said they consider themselves very fortunate to work for a company that's so inclusive. But in 2017, the Massachusetts attorney general investigated the case of a former intern who is trans and who had complained about discrimination. Dell denied wrongdoing but paid a $110,000 settlement.

Harris says she always saw the tech industry as a place where, no matter what you look like, "if you put your head down and you learn the stuff and you do the work, you can change your circumstances." Earlier this summer, Harris told NPR she was still on Dell's payroll, but she wasn't going into the office on a regular basis anymore. In her complaint to New York City's Commission on Human Rights, she detailed her problems using Dell's bathrooms. "That's the truth," she told NPR. She added that after being harassed a second time about which restroom she was using, she decided to stop going to work. Harris said she was exhausted. A few weeks later, she left the company. Harris quit working at Dell but plans on staying in a career in tech. Elias Williams for NPR Davis, Dell's spokeswoman, wouldn't provide details about Harris' time at the company, saying she wishes to respect Harris' privacy. But Davis said, "The matter was resolved amicably." Despite her experience at Dell, Harris said she wants to keep working in the tech industry. "I want my money. I don't want to be poor," she said. "My father, he picked cotton. My grandfather was a sharecropper. I'm a systems engineer. So, I'd rather stay." https://ift.tt/2Y36d4s

See this link: https://www.npr.org/2019/07/15/740726966/it-s-a-career-ender-2-lgbtq-former-dell-workers-share-their-stories

Monday, July 8, 2019

LGBTQ Workplace Fairness from the Litigator's POV

I spoke to Eric Lesh of LeGal about my work in LGBTQ employment discrimination, how I got into this line, the history of court involvement in these issues, and where the courts may be going with this. https://ift.tt/2YJTdxM tw: legal jargon

See this link: https://legal.podbean.com/e/lgbtq-workplace-fairness-from-the-litigators-pov/