Out & Equal - QNotes


Out & Equal - QNotes

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Transgender ex-employee

sues city over firing

A former maintenance facility

worker says she was fired because

she had a sex change. The city’s

attorney says it has no liability in

the dismissal.

by Franco Ordoñez and Maria David

The Charlotte Observer

A former city operations assistant at a

Charlotte maintenance facility has sued the

city, claiming she was fired because she had a

sex change.

Anne Marie Clukey, who worked for the

city for nearly two years, said she was fired

because she did not conform to her supervisor’s

“gender stereotype.”

“I have been out for a while working,”

Clukey told the Observer this week.“I never

had a problem like this before in other places

I’ve lived.”

Clukey, 60, and born a male, had “gender

reassignment” surgery in May 2001, according

to court documents. She’s asking for at least


She previously lived in Portland, Maine,

where she worked three years as an automotive

shop manager. She said she had more than 40

years of experience in the automotive-maintenance

industry, according to court documents.

Clukey worked at the city’s Seigle Ave. maintenance

facility where police and other city

vehicles are repaired. Co-workers at the facility

referred questions about Clukey to city officials.

Mac McCarley, the city’s attorney, said a

legal response has not yet been filed, but that

the city will deny any liability.

“Transgender individuals are not protected

under the federal employment discrimination

laws,” he said.

According to court papers, Clukey charges

that her supervisor,Karen King,became “hostile”

with her after finding out that Clukey was

transgender. She said King also passed her over

for a promotion to supervisor despite Clukey

having previous management experience.

When Clukey reported to management

that King had overlooked her qualifications,

she said King retaliated by writing her up on

unsupported reprimands.

Assistant City Attorney Hope Root said

King had been told not to speak with the


Clukey was fired in December 2006.

Roughly a half dozen legal cases have recognized

transgender individuals as victims of

sex discrimination, said Lou Lesesne, a private

employment attorney. But he said the burden

will be on Clukey to prove she was fired

because she was transgender, and that it was a

violation of federal discrimination laws. ◗

— Reprinted with the permission of The

Charlotte Observer.



Law on anti-trans discrimination vague

Anne Marie Clukey’s lawsuit against the City of Charlotte will likely be an interesting test

case for the city.

Employment law in North Carolina and federally does not explicitly protect transgender

employees, but a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1989 ruled that gender and sex stereotyping and

the discrimination that results from it is prohibited under current laws and regulations

against discrimination based on gender or sex.

The North Carolina Office of State Personnel recently issued an advisory note on the subject:

“Sex or gender stereotyping was held to be illegal in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S.

228, 250-51, 109 S. Ct. 1775, 104 L. Ed. 2d 268 (1989) and some courts have held that the prohibition

against sex, or gender, discrimination prohibits discrimination because of gender nonconformity.

Therefore, if an employee is treated differently because of gender stereotyping, the

employee may have a claim for discrimination.”

While the State Personnel office’s note and practice applies only to state employees, it is

likely instructive for any government under the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, including the

City of Charlotte. ◗

— by Matt Comer, Q-Notes staff

6 FEBRUARY 21 . 2009 • QNotes

Not for Reproduction