A transgender former employee of Barnes & Noble Bookstore is suing in Orange County federal court, alleging that the management at the store where she worked refused to allow her to present herself as a woman at work and fired her when she stopped complying. Victoria Ramirez, along with the Transgender Law Center, is now suing for sexual discrimination based upon her identity.
Facts Alleged in the Complaint
In the complaint, Ms. Ramirez claims that she worked for Barnes & Noble for six years. During her time there, she informed the management that she was transitioning from a man to a woman. The management barred her from wearing women’s clothing, discussing her transition with coworkers, using female pronouns, or using the women’s restroom. Ms. Ramirez claims that she attempted to comply with their rules, but it resulted in her experiencing severe anxiety and panic attacks.
Eventually, she told her managers that she would no longer hide her transition into a woman. As a result, Barnes & Noble fired her from her position, causing her to lose “my livelihood, my financial stability, and my confidence." The attorneys from the Law Center noted that this case is particularly disturbing given how the company has marketed its perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index for the past seven years.
Response from Barnes & Noble
A spokesperson from the company did in fact reference their perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index when reached for comment about the lawsuit. In addition, Barnes & Noble stated that "We are very proud to employ a large number of transgender individuals, whom, like all employees, are treated with dignity and respect . . . Barnes & Noble has a history of supporting and employing transgender individuals."
The company claims that when an employee informs them of the transition, Barnes & Noble works with them to provide the support that they need. Citing directly against what was claimed, the company also stated that they work with the other employees and managers in our stores to ensure they are educated about the transition process and what to expect. In addition, under Barnes & Noble’s workplace benefits, the company pays for transition surgery, hormone therapy, counseling and other necessary medical assistance.
Other Cases of Transgender Employee Discrimination
Barnes & Noble is not the first company to face lawsuits by transgender employees. Saks Fifth Avenue faced a similar lawsuit by one of its employees, Leyth Jamal, who claimed that the store discriminated against her because of her identity. In addition, First Tower Loan, the U.S. Army, Forever 21, Lakeland Eye Clinic, and Southern Oklahoma State University have all been sued for allegedly discriminating against a transgender employee.
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If you have questions regarding a transgender employee or any other issues regarding employment law in Pleasanton, Alameda County, or the Tri-Valley area let the experienced attorneys at Garcia & Gurney help. Call the office or contact us today for a confidential consultation of your case.