Justin Tanis, Cole Thaler, Congressman John Lewis, Vandy Beth Glen and her friend David
Vandy Beth Glenn, represented by Lambda Legal, won her case in District Court after suing her former employer for firing her because of her transition. She worked as a legislative editor for the Georgia State Assembly, a job she enjoyed and where she put in long, dedicated hours; in 2006, she informed her supervisor that she would be transitioning from male to female.
Her supervisor spoke with Sewell Brumby, the General Assembly’s Legislative Counsel, who in 2007 fired Ms. Glenn because he felt that her transition was, according to court documents, “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.” He also said he was concerned about the reactions of Georgia state legislators, stating his belief that, “some legislators would believe that Glenn’s gender transition was immoral, unnatural, and ‘ultraliberal’.”
In 2008, Lambda Legal filed suit asserting that in firing Ms. Glenn, Mr. Brumby violated the Equal Protection clause of the constitution by treating her differently because she didn’t conform to sex stereotypes and because of her medical condition. Late last Friday, July 2nd, the Northern District Court of Georgia ruled that her rights were violated because she was discriminated against because she didn’t match how the Mr. Brumby felt someone born male should act. However, her claim of discrimination because of her medical condition was denied.
United States District Court Judge Richard Story in his decisions wrote, “This Court concurs with the majority of courts that have addressed this issue, finding that discrimination against a transgendered individual because of their failure to conform to gender stereotypes constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex.” He also noted that, “…avoiding the anticipated negative reactions of others cannot serve as a sufficient basis for discrimination and does not constitute an important government interest.”
In September 2009, Vandy Beth Glenn testified before Congress about the importance of passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and met with her Representative, John Lewis, who is a strong supporter of the measure.
NCTE applauds the work of Lambda Legal on this case and thanks Vandy Beth for her courage and tenacity in standing up against the discrimination she encountered. This case shows why we need to pursue legal action at the same time that we are working to pass laws that make it clear that discrimination is unacceptable in the American workplace.
You can read more about the decision from Lambda Legal.