Federal Court Says Lambda Legal's Lawsuit on Behalf of Transgender Woman Fired by Georgia General Assembly Can Move Forward
(Atlanta, GA, June 26, 2009) — The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia today denied the Georgia General Assembly's motion to dismiss Lambda Legal's federal lawsuit on behalf of Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who was fired from her job as Legislative Editor after she told them she planned to transition from male to female.
Richard W. Story, United States District Judge, writes: "Defendants do not claim that Glenn's transition would have rendered her unable to do her job nor do they present any government purpose whatsoever for their termination of Plaintiff's employment… Anticipated reactions of others are not a sufficient basis for discrimination."
"We are thrilled that Vandy Beth has been granted her day in court and that the Georgia General Assembly can be challenged for violating her constitutional rights," said Cole Thaler, National Transgender Rights Attorney based in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta. "Senior officials of the Georgia state legislature discriminated when they fired our client simply because her boss didn't like who she is."
Glenn worked for two years in the General Assembly's Office of Legislative Counsel as an editor and proofreader of bill language. She loved her job, but living as male was increasingly painful and distressing for Glenn, who has a longstanding female gender identity. Glenn's health care providers diagnosed her with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and agreed that gender transition was necessary for her health and well-being. In 2007, Glenn informed her immediate supervisor, Beth Yinger, that she planned to proceed with her transition from male to female, and showed Yinger photographs of herself in feminine attire. Yinger passed the information on to her boss, the General Assembly's Legislative Counsel, Sewell Brumby. After confirming that Glenn intended to transition, Brumby fired her on the spot.
Lambda Legal's lawsuit, first filed in July 2008, asserted that Glenn's termination violated the Constitution's Equal Protection guarantee because it treated her differently due to her nonconformity with sex stereotypes and her medical condition. On October 16, 2008, the Georgia General Assembly filed a motion to dismiss the case claiming that her Equal Protection claims were incorrectly applied. Lambda Legal argued that Glenn's Equal Protection claims are based on unequal treatment due to her membership in two identifiable groups — people with GID and people who do not conform to sex stereotypes — and, in today's ruling, the court agreed.
Today's decision relied in part on Lambda Legal's landmark case Romer v. Evans which made clear that prejudice does not justify governmental discrimination.
"I look forward to continuing my case and working to end this type of discrimination. No one should lose their job for no good reason the way I did," said Lambda Legal client Vandy Beth Glenn.
Cole Thaler, Transgender Rights Attorney and Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta are handling the case. The case is Glenn v. Brumby et. al.
Contact: Erin Baer 212-809-8585 ext. 267; Email: [email protected]