Employed in a nursing home in Pennsylvania, a transgender nursing aid has been forced to file a lawsuit against aggressors who allegedly bullied her in the workplace. The aid who wishes to remain anonymous in her case against the attackers, described the scenario as something out of a high school movie filled with mean girls, bullying, and shaming. Not only was she made to feel bad about herself and the identity she feels most comfortable in, she was also proclaimed a hell bound soul, unless she asked for forgiveness for her sins.
The suit was filed in federal court last month, with the plaintiff describing the workplace harassment as ongoing torture from April to August 2018 when employment was ended. The work environment was described as hostile, feeling unsafe, and a difficult place to be. The harassment was allegedly directed at the plaintiff by both direct management personnel and peers in the workplace.
Jane Doe’s Case
Staying anonymous under the name of Jane Doe for safety reasons, the plaintiff explained that she was afraid that if anyone found out her name, she would receive threat of violence. As a transgender woman who also falls into the category of a visible minority, Jane Doe could face a higher level of threat than other transgendered women.
When Doe first began working at Garden of Memory she was quick to identify herself as a she, was friendly, and courteous to other staff members. The harassment began almost immediately and continued on for 5-months until she was let go. At one point Doe even heard a co-worker named Murtho say that if “he” didn’t pray for forgiveness, “he” would go to hell. It wasn’t just the religious connotation which left a bad taste in Doe’s mouth at this time, but the fact that she had told her coworkers her preference to be referred to as a woman, and the blatant disregard for that decision.
One of the nurses involved in the case has been given the title, “Charge Nurse Stacy”. Stacy supposedly purposely and maliciously incorrectly gendered Doe continuously, even after Doe had corrected her with the appropriate name and pronoun to use when referencing her. Instead of being offered the respect of being referred to by this name, coworkers issued gender slandering and insulting behavior in response to her presence.
Doe lodged a formal complaint with her supervisor, describing the situation and asserting her position of hurt at the consistent harassment. When she returned to her shift after a scheduled lunch break, she was unceremoniously fired without reason. Attempts to interview the employer have turned up empty with supervisors at Garden of Memory saying they were unable to release any personal information.
Transgender Precedence in Law
This isn’t the first time a transgendered woman has brought her assailants to justice via a lawsuit. In 2015, Deluxe Financial Services Corp. faced a similar suit after a woman was denied access to a female washroom because of illegal gender discrimination. In the case, the woman, Britney Austin, described her experience as derogatory, hostile, and transphobic. The case followed rules set out by the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration, putting Britney within her rights to use the female restroom.
The importance of equal rights in the workplace is a subject you think the world would be on board with, considering how hard the fight for equality has been this far for women and visible minorities. Now, the transgendered community is taking a hit for being something other than what some consider to be the “norm”.
What will this latest suit mean for nursing work conditions and the gay and trans community in the future? We can only hope that it means more education and acceptance for all.