News (USA)

Transgender woman sues Walmart for workplace discrimination

Photo: Jared C. Benedict

A transgender woman is suing Walmart for discrimination.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the suit on behalf of Charlene Bost, who was fired from a Sam’s Club in Kannapolis, North Carolina in 2015. Sam’s Club is a subsidiary of Walmart.

Bost, who started working at the store in 2011 as a Member Service Supervisor, said that after her transition her coworkers and bosses were calling her by the wrong name and pronoun.

The lawsuit claims the treatment Bost received at her workplace violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and, finally, the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found evidence to support the claims.

When Bost won her case before the EEOC, Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove told LGBTQ Nation that while they disagreed with the EEOC’s findings, they were “open to discussions with Ms. Bost regarding a conciliatory resolution.”

“Despite excelling at my job, Sam’s Club treated me with cruelty and disrespect, simply for being a woman,” Bost said in a statement. “I am bringing this lawsuit because transgender people must have the same opportunities to work hard, earn a living and contribute to our communities, free from bias. No one should ever be confronted with the prejudice I experienced on the job.”

“The EEOC put its weight behind this case and our federal lawsuit is the next step on the road to justice for Ms. Bost,” said TLDEF Executive Director Jillian Weiss. “It also sends a strong message to Walmart and its subsidiaries that good corporate policy alone will not suffice. It must be backed by strong enforcement mechanisms that reach the shop floor.”

“Walmart maintains a strong anti-discrimination policy,” the company told Gay Star News. “We support diversity and inclusion in our workforce and do not tolerate discrimination or retaliation of any kind. We disagree with the claims raised by Ms. Bost. Her termination was for performance reasons. We will respond as appropriate with the Court.”

A history of anti-trans discrimination

Despite its protestations, Walmart has a troubling history concerning LGBTQ discrimination.

Their recent infractions caused the Human Rights Campaign to revoke the company’s perfect 100 score on their Corporate Equality Index.

In December of 2016, Walmart settled a class action lawsuit brought by current and former gay and lesbian employees who were denied benefits for their legal spouses.

In August of this year, another transgender woman, Jessica Shyne Robison, won her case before the EEOC against Walmart for discrimination at a Florida Sam’s Club that began after her transition.

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