A transgender worker who was mistreated and ultimately fired by Woodbridge Group because she was transgender has been awarded $12.5 million. The employee, Kaila Alana Loyola, worked at Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC as a document processor. During that time, her supervisor, Lianna Balayan, did research on the internet to learn the woman's birth name and background. When she discovered that the employee was transgender, she began referring to her by her male birthname and repeatedly subjected her to cruel jokes, mockery and scorn. Company owner and President, Robert Shapiro, instructed Ms. Balayan, "no more hiring trannies." The employee was fired after ninety days of employment.
Violence and discrimination against transgender people cannot be tolerated. But, unfortunately, we live in a world where ignorance, fear of the unknown, and discomfort with our own sexuality, has led to cruelty and abuse directed at one of the most vulnerable segments of society. In the last few years, transgender and gender nonconforming people have become more visible. Yet, at at the same time, transgender people are still not fully accepted and understood, and their visibility has made them targets for abuse, discrimination and hostility.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently found that the Department of Army engaged in gender identity (transgender) discrimination against Tamara Lusardi, after Lusardi announced she was transitioning from male to female. The OSC is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency tasked mainly with protecting federal employees from prohibited personnel practices (PPP) in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 2302. This particular law is limited to federal employees but it contains the same basic principles as the sections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which relate to employment discrimination.
There is so much ignorance and unfounded bias surrounding transgender discrimination that even experienced employment law attorneys may shy away from these cases.