Federal Appeals Court Protects Transsexual 04-06-2005
- By Rita Risser, attorney at law
A transsexual police officer's jury verdict of almost $1 million for discrimination was upheld on appeal March 22.
Barnes was a long-time police officer with a good track record who was a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual. He took the sergeant's exam and scored 18th out of 105. He was picked for promotion, and like all the others, placed on probationary status. Unlike the others, he was set up to fail. Among other things, he was forced to wear a microphone at all times and his car was equipped with video. He was not allowed to go in the field alone at any time.
Ultimately, he was terminated from his promotion based on "performance." He was the only sergeant to ever fail probation in 7 years, even though other sergeants received lower evaluations than he. His performance was judged inadequate because he did not have "command presence." He was also told outright that he would not be kept because he was not masculine enough.
Barnes alleged he was terminated because he did not conform to sex stereotypes. The jury agreed, and the Court of Appeals upheld their verdict.
What this means to you: The interpretation of federal law is being expanded to include gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. That means your policies must clearly prohibit discrimination and harassment against them. All managers should be trained on preventing discrimination and harassment against all people based on protected characteristics
Barnes v. City of Cincinnati (6th Cir 03/22/2005)
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