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Bookseller accused of workplace discrimination by ex-employee

Barnes & Noble is making headlines but not being shown in a positive light. People in Florida and elsewhere who patronize the bookseller may be very disturbed to hear about the way in which it allegedly treated one of its transgender employees. The woman claims that her transition was not handled with sensitivity and that she was the victim of workplace discrimination and harassment.

The plaintiff was a man when first hired but later began taking hormones to become a woman. At work, she maintained her male appearance but took on her female persona elsewhere. As time went on, she began to grow her hair longer and paint her nails. After going out, she sometimes had leftover traces of makeup when she went to work.

With regards to her appearance, the plaintiff's manager reminded her that she worked at a family-oriented establishment and to consider the fact that children were often present. The plaintiff finally announced that she was transitioning and that she would like to look like a woman at work. Her manager allegedly said that her co-workers would lose respect for her and that she was not permitted to be called by her female name. Additionally, she was not to wear skirts or use the ladies restroom because it might upset her co-workers.

Eventually, the plaintiff was terminated because she could not come into work after suffering from a panic attack. After confronting human resources, she was allegedly told that the situation was not handled properly and that it would be relayed that she wanted to return to work. She was later unable to get a job in another store because the previous manager's assessment that the plaintiff was not capable of doing her job. All Florida workers are to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their protected status characteristics. Those who feel that they have been victimized can choose to pursue workplace discrimination claims against their employers.

Source: Fortune, "Barnes & Noble sued for discrimination by transgender ex-employee", Claire Zillman, May 7, 2015

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