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This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Friday, April 7, 2006

News: Lawsuit Against Georgia Employer

Today's link discusses another transgender EEO lawsuit. What makes it particularly interesting is that it arises in a jurisdiction without any laws explicitly protecting "gender identity," and the termination occurred during the employee's probationary period in government employment. The employer, Fulton County, has a written non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation in its employee handbook or manual, but not gender identity. Interestingly, the county seat of Fulton County, Atlanta, does have a law explicitly protecting "gender identity." The employee, Nerissa Belcher, was terminated from her job as a county disease investigator.

According to the employee, the director of the agency "used my probation period as a reason for my discharge and he said, 'I don't have to say anything else.'" Her EEO complaint claims the county was guilty of discrimination based on "sexual identity."

Belcher said she applied for a job with the Fulton County Health Department using her male birth name because she had not yet received court papers acknowledging the change. She showed up for an interview dressed as a woman with court papers showing her name change. She was hired two months later. Several weeks after she began working, she said her boss asked her to stop using the woman's restroom and instead use a single stall. Belcher said. "I wasn't happy about using the single stall, but I needed the job."

Belcher said she eventually requested to be able to use the women's restroom and was granted access by her boss. Her boss then called an impromptu meeting of some 200 women working in the building and required her to explain her gender identity. The bathroom decision was reversed several times, and colleagues began calling her "sir." She complained and requested diversity training for employees, meeting with managerial silence. She filed a grievance under department policy, but it was only partially addressed.

Belcher said she is awaiting the results of the EEO investigation to determine her next steps.

In Georgia, the cities of Atlanta and Decatur have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Those cities also protect sexual orientation, as well as Fulton County, DeKalb County, East Point, Lithia Springs, Savannah and Tybee Island

1 comment:

Dr. Jillian Todd Weiss said...

31 Fortune 500 companies headquarted in Georgia could be affected by this suit:

Home Depot, United Parcel Service, Coca-Cola, BellSouth, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Delta Air Lines, AFLAC, Southern, SunTrust Banks, Genuine Parts, Cox Communications, Mohawk Industries, Newell Rubbermaid, BlueLinx Holdings, AGCO, Duluth, Beazer Homes USA, Mirant, Synovus Financial Corp., AGL Resources, Graphic Packaging, Marietta, Spectrum Brands, Gold Kist, Georgia Gulf, Acuity Brands, Scientific-Atlanta, Superior Essex, Rock-Tenn, Flowers Foods, Roper Industries, Equifax, Russell