KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — A transgender woman in North Carolina is suing Sam’s Club, and its parent company Walmart, claiming discrimination and wrongful termination.
The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) filed the suit on behalf of Charlene Bost, after she was fired from a Sam’s Club in Kannapolis in 2015.
Bost said her coworkers and bosses not only called her by the wrong name and pronouns, but also referred to her as “it” and “thing.” She said she was wrongly terminated after she filed complaints about the treatment.
The firing followed negative evaluations that were given by a manager said to have made crude remarks about her, as well as initiating inappropriate physical contact.
“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 lawsuit claims the treatment she received means the company is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found evidence to support the claims.
Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove told LGBTQ Nation that they disagreed with the EEOC’s findings, but were “open to discussions with Ms. Bost regarding a conciliatory resolution.”
“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.”
“They had some good policies saying they would not discriminate but unfortunately those policies did not reach to the shop floor,” TLDEF Executive Director Jillian Weiss told Spectrum News. “This case is an attempt to say that when there is wrongdoing like that – and the company fails to promptly and effectively take action which they’re required to do, to stop that – then they need to be held to account.”
“We’re looking for changes to be made in policy in the way that cases are investigated,” said added. “Transgender people are simply human beings who are entitled to the same dignity and equal treatment that others are. What Charlene is looking for is to make sure that no one else is treated the way she was treated simply for being who they are.”
This is not the first time Walmart has been criticized for its treatment of the LGBTQ community.
In August of last year, transgender woman Jessica Shyne Robison won her case before the EEOC against Walmart for discrimination at a Florida Sam’s Club.
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.
The Human Rights Campaign recently revoked the company’s perfect 100 score on their Corporate Equality Index as a result of these types of infractions against their workers.