Wal-Mart settles retaliation lawsuit by transgender worker

It is illegal for Arizona employers to retaliate against employees who report discrimination. However, many companies continue to be accused of engaging in such behavior. For example, on June 6, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced that it had settled a lawsuit filed by a former transgender employee who worked at one of the company's Sam's Club stores. The employee claimed that she was wrongfully terminated after reporting incidents of harassment to her supervisors.

According to the lawsuit, the employee began working at a Kannapolis, North Carolina, Sam's Club store in March 2004. In 2008, she began presenting as a woman while at work. In March 2015, she was fired from her position. She claimed this action was in retaliation for her complaining to supervisors about harassment by her co-workers. Examples of this harassment included co-workers calling her "sir," "it" and "shim." She further alleged that she was fired because her managers believed she suffered from "gender dysphoria." The lawsuit accused Wal-Mart of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

A spokesperson for Wal-Mart said that the company believes it has strong anti-discrimination policies in place. However, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represented the employee, said that companies need to have strong anti-discrimination policies and enforce them. The terms of the settlement were not made public. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of North Carolina.

As this case demonstrates, employees faced with workplace discrimination may be able to obtain a settlement by taking legal action against their employer. An employment attorney might review an employee's case and explain how to properly document incidents of discrimination for the purposes of a lawsuit.

Source: Reuters, "Wal-Mart settles discrimination lawsuit by transgender worker," Daniel Wiessner, June 6, 2018

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