"Transgender employees are still vulnerable to sex discrimination from their employers who don’t understand it."
(Atlanta, GA, February 1, 2011) — Late yesterday, Lambda Legal filed papers in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit defending a lower court ruling that the Georgia General Assembly discriminated against Lambda Legal client Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who was fired from her job as Legislative Editor after she told her supervisor that she planned to transition from male to female.
"We’re looking forward to making our case at the Eleventh Circuit. It is clear Vandy Beth Glenn was fired because her boss didn’t like her as she is. That is unfair and illegal", said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta. "The law is on our side here, but transgender employees are still vulnerable to sex discrimination from their employers who don’t understand it. A clear statement from Congress – made by passing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) would protect LGBT employees and provide helpful, clear guidance to employers. Because nobody wants the right to sue as much as they want to be free of work-place discrimination in the first place."
Glenn worked for two years in the General Assembly's Office of Legislative Counsel as an editor and proofreader of bill language. She loved her job, but living as a male was increasingly painful and distressing for Glenn who has a longstanding female gender identity. Glenn's health care providers diagnosed her with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and agreed that gender transition was necessary for her health and well-being. In 2007, Glenn informed her immediate supervisor, Beth Yinger, that she planned to proceed with her transition from male to female, and showed Yinger photographs of herself in professional female attire. Yinger passed the information on to her boss, the General Assembly's Legislative Counsel, Sewell Brumby. After confirming that Glenn intended to transition, Brumby fired Vandy Beth because he thought her transition "...was inappropriate, that it would be disruptive, that some people would view it as a moral issue, and that it would make Glenn's coworkers uncomfortable."
Lambda Legal's lawsuit, filed in July 2008, claimed that Glenn's termination violated the Constitution's Equal Protection guarantee because it treated her differently due to her nonconformity with sex stereotypes and her medical condition. In July 2010, the District Court ruled that Georgia General Assembly officials violated the Constitution and discriminated against Glenn by terminating her for failing to conform to sex stereotypes. Using a lower standard of review, the Court rejected the second Equal Protection claim that Glenn was discriminated against on the basis of her medical condition. The state appealed the case to the Eleventh Circuit. In the brief filed yesterday, Lambda Legal argues that the Eleventh Circuit Court should affirm the District Court’s ruling that Brumby discriminated against Glenn based on her sex because Brumby testified that he fired Glenn specifically because he viewed her intended feminine presentation as unacceptable.
"I am resolved to see this case to the end. No one should be fired for no good reason like I was," said Lambda Legal client Vandy Beth Glenn.