TLDEF Files Federal Lawsuit Against Walmart for Workplace Discrimination

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund has filed a federal lawsuit against Sam’s East, Inc. and Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. on behalf of a transgender woman who faced workplace discrimination at a Sam’s Club store in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Sam’s Club is a membership-only retail warehouse chain owned by Sam’s East, Inc., a subsidiary of Walmart.

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Charlene Bost endured bias, retaliation and a hostile work environment in her position as a Member Service Supervisor from 2011 through her firing in 2015. This discrimination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act, the lawsuit contends. After Ms. Bost transitioned, co-workers and supervisors began discriminating against her because of her sex. She was repeatedly subjected to a barrage of hostilities which included being wrongfully disciplined and repeatedly called by the wrong name and pronouns.

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“Despite excelling at my job, Sam’s Club treated me with cruelty and disrespect, simply for being a woman,” said Ms. Bost. “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.”

In August the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found evidence that Ms. Bost was subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment because of her sex and determined this violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The determination was one of two successful EEOC decisions secured by TLDEF against Walmart this year that led the Human Rights Campaign to suspend Walmart’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) rating, despite the company’s trans-inclusive corporate policies.

“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. “This case makes clear that workplace discrimination against transgender individuals violates the law and will not be tolerated. It also sends a strong message to Walmart that good corporate policy alone will not suffice. It must be backed by strong enforcement mechanisms that reach the shop floor.”

“We stand with TLDEF and our fellow North Carolinian, Ms. Bost, in their pursuit of this discrimination case,” said Ames Simmons, Director of Transgender Policy for Equality North Carolina. “Mistreating trans employees is illegal and unacceptable. Sam’s Club must be held accountable.”

This case is Charlene Bost v. Sam’s East, Inc. and Wal-Mart Associates, Inc. It was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. TLDEF Senior Staff Attorney Donna Levinsohn is representing Ms. Bost in partnership with Robert Elliot of the North Carolina law firm of Elliot Morgan Parsonage, PLLC.

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