The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against Bojangles Restaurants, Inc. for creating a hostile work environment for a transgender employee. The alleged incidents took place at the Fayetteville branch of the restaurant.

The Facts of the Case

According to the lawsuit, employee Jonathan Wolfe who identifies as female was not only repeatedly harassed at work, but was eventually fired in retaliation for reporting the harassment. She was allegedly subjected to frequent offensive comments about her appearance and gender identity by both the manager and assistant manager of the restaurant and was repeatedly prodded to engage in stereotypically male behavior. Although Wolfe reported the sexual harassment on at least two occasions, it continued to be a problem. After the second complaint, she was fired. The EEOC investigation concluded that her firing was in retaliation for having complained about the abusive treatment.

What does the law say about this kind of harassment?

The type of harassment Wolfe allegedly experienced is unlawful under both federal and New Jersey law. Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, harassment against transgender employees based on gender stereotypes is unlawful sex discrimination. Such gender stereotyping is also unlawful under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”); however, the LAD also specifically prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Both federal and New Jersey law prohibit employers from retaliating in any way against employees who complain about unlawful discrimination. The law offers protection not only to employees who have been terminated, but also to those who are denied raises, bonuses, or promotions, or given unfavorable assignments.

If you are suffering employment discrimination of any kind you should not face it alone. Consult with a well-respected employment attorney who will help you fight back.