Transgender people are one group that experiences a very high degree of discrimination at work. A 2015 report revealed that 27% have been denied a promotion, not been hired or been fired just in the preceding year. Fortunately, here in New Jersey, the law has strong protections against workplace discrimination based on gender identity and/or expression so, if you’ve lost a job, lost a promotion, been denied employment or otherwise been harmed in the workplace because you are trans, you should contact a New Jersey employment attorney promptly.
For some trans people, the potential for discrimination is even greater than most other trans individuals. S.S., a process assistant at Amazon’s South Corporate Center in Ewing, was one of those people. S.S. was a trans man and, as of June 2019, also was pregnant, according to a nj.com report.
Being trans and being pregnant can be an especially difficult and even dangerous time for some workers. S.S. had disclosed his pregnancy to his employer, but those whom he told did not keep it confidential, according to his lawsuit. Shortly thereafter, S.S. allegedly began experiencing harassment. A co-worker allegedly questioned S.S.’s use of the men’s restroom, stating “Aren’t you pregnant?” Managers allegedly began criticizing his work more and, when he complained about the harassment, human resources allegedly placed him on leave, according to the report.
Eventually, S.S. alleged in his complaint, he was transferred and reassigned to a lesser position where his new duties included lifting heavy items like large bags of dog food, even though the employer knew he was pregnant. S.S. took the next reasonable step and gave Amazon a doctor’s note exempting him from lifting heavy loads, but the employer responded to that by placing him on unpaid leave, according to the lawsuit documents.
S.S. asserted claims both for gender identity discrimination and pregnancy discrimination.
Unfortunately, S.S.’s alleged experiences at Amazon are not unique. Last year, CNet reported that no fewer than seven pregnant workers at Amazon warehouses sued the company for pregnancy discrimination. Trans people have allegedly undergone similar problems, with at least one trans woman alleging that she suffered discrimination at her Amazon warehouse job.
You now have options under both New Jersey and federal law
In New Jersey, the law prohibiting workplace discrimination against trans people is very clear. Gender identity and expression are among the protected categories explicitly listed within the Law Against Discrimination, and that has been true since 2007. The Law Against Discrimination defines gender identity and expression as “having or being perceived as having a gender related identity or expression whether or not stereotypically associated with a person’s assigned sex at birth.”
Additionally, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling this past June in the case of R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, trans people may also seek relief through federal law. That Supreme Court case expressly held that the “because of sex” language of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act extended, not just to gender discrimination, but also to discrimination on the basis of gender identity/expression.
A successful gender identity case can potentially entitle you to a wide variety of damages. Depending on the proof you present during your case, you may be entitled to back pay, reinstatement to your old position, compensatory damages and possibly even punitive damages. S.S., in his federal court case, sought each of those forms of damages, according to nj.com.
While New Jersey has powerful laws that are designed to be aggressive in stamping out discrimination, discrimination and harassment in Garden State workplaces remains a problem. Non-binary people, pregnant people and, especially, pregnant non-binary people are often at especially high risk of harassment and/or discrimination at work. If that’s happened to you, don’t suffer in silence and don’t delay. Contact the knowledgeable New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys offer many years of experience in successfully representing workers harmed by workplace harassment, and know how to get results. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation to discuss how we can help you.