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A trans woman is suing a supermarket alleging slurs, discrimination and harassment

Josh Milton August 22, 2019
A participant is seen holding a placard during the 2019 Trans Pride march in Dundee.

A participant is seen holding a placard during the 2019 Trans Pride march in Dundee. (Stewart Kirby/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

A trans woman has filed a lawsuit against a US supermarket chain after allegedly suffering discrimination from co-workers, with one calling her a “man in a dress”.

Judi Brown, a trans woman of colour, is suing her former employer, Circle K, after working at a branch in Illinois, US.

Brown worked at the 24-hour store and gas station in Bolingbrook, a southwest suburb of Chicago, for less than a year, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

While there, she claimed her fellow employees were repeatedly transphobic and also used the n-word towards her.

Moreover, Brown claims her manager asked invasive questions and refused to update company documents to reflect her gender identity.

The manager would also allegedly, at times, refer to Brown with male pronouns. Escalating to her being fired on the day of Chicago Pride, leaving her “humiliated”.

Brown says she reported the harassment to Circle K, but the store’s upper-management did not take action.

Furthermore, a promised promotion was denied to her.

Manager fired trans woman on the day of Chicago Pride.

Brown’s time at Circle K ended abruptly.

According to Brown’s laywers, Brown’s manager scheduled a shift for her on 30 June – the day of Chicago Pride that she planned to attend.

She says she had previously alerted upper-management – as per procedure – that she was unable to work the shift.

Yet, her manager fired her on the same day as Pride. However, the manager is said to have done so without informing Brown.

It wasn’t until Brown struggled to clock in for work the next day that she discovered she had been fired.

Brown was “in absolute shock after being fired”, she said in a statement.

“I followed all the rules for taking off on that day so I could celebrate with my community — and they picked that day to terminate me.

“I felt so humiliated.”

She added: “Even in Illinois, discrimination against transgender people, especially trans women of colour, still happens. We deserve to be respected at work just like everyone else.

“My hope is that this lawsuit will show that what happened to me was wrong and no one else should have to put up with it.”

Brown is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, which include but are not limited to lost wages and benefits.

“Circle K’s actions were unacceptable and illegal.”

Carolyn Wald, a staff attorney at American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, slammed the convenience store chain.

“An employee cannot be fired simply because they are transgender, and they cannot be fired for speaking out about racist and transphobic harassment in the workplace.

“Circle K’s actions were unacceptable and illegal.”

A Circle K spokesperson told PinkNews: “Circle K is an equal-opportunity employer with a diverse workforce including transgender employees and fully cooperated with agency authorities during the previous investigation into this claim.”

More: trans woman, US

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