Lambda Legal Urges Eleventh Circuit to Uphold Ruling for Transgender Woman Fired by Georgia Legislature
"We're in court today to defend what the District Court has already confirmed: Vandy Beth was fired because her boss didn't like who she is, and that kind of treatment is discriminatory and illegal," said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta. "Our client's story isn't a new one. In fact, employers in Georgia and across the country already have policies that prohibit discrimination against transgender employees. Though there are employers who don't understand it, the law is clear: It is unfair and illegal to fire a transgender employee because she does not conform to your sexist stereotypes of how a woman should be."
"The law is on our side, but everyone shouldn't need a lawyer to help them fight workplace discrimination. Congress must pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) because we still need a federal law to tell employers unequivocally that discrimination against LGBT employees in the workplace is illegal," added Nevins.
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 a 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 professional female 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. Brumby conceded in court papers that Vandy Beth's "intended feminine appearance" contributed to Glenn's termination.
Lambda Legal's lawsuit, filed in July 2008, claimed 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. In July 2010, the District Court ruled that Georgia General Assembly officials violated the Constitution and discriminated against Glenn by terminating her for failing to conform to sex stereotypes. Using a lower standard of review, the Court rejected the second Equal Protection claim that Glenn was discriminated against on the basis of her medical condition. The state appealed the case to the Eleventh Circuit.
"I am confident and hopeful that the 11th Circuit will see the truth of how I was mistreated just as the District Court did," said Lambda Legal client Vandy Beth Glenn.
Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta is handling the case, with assistance from Dru Levasseur, Transgender Rights Attorney. The case is Glenn v. Brumby.