Search form

Scroll To Top

 Trans Woman Sues Convenience Store For Racist Slurs, Harassment

Trans Woman Sues Convenience Store For Racist Slurs, Harassment

Trans Woman Sues Convenience Store For Harassment, Discrimination

Former Circle K employee Judi Brown also says coworkers deadnamed her repeatedly and called her a "man in a dress."

A day after she performed in Chicago's Pride celebration, Judi Brown says that she was fired from her job at convenience store Circle K following months of transphobic harassment.

Now Brown is suing, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Brown worked at the store for a little over a year, during which time she says she endured racist slurs from coworkers who called her a "man in a dress." A manager harassed Brown with intrusive questions about her anatomy, deadnamed her, and refused to update personnel records to reflect Brown's pronouns.

Brown says she escalated complaints about her treatment, but Circle K management did nothing. She was passed over for a promotion she had earlier been promised.

The mistreatment came to a head during Chicago Pride, Brown says. Although managers knew that she intended to perform at the event, they scheduled her to work that day and were late in sending out that week's work schedule. When Brown followed procedure to let them know she wasn't available, she says was fired but wasn't informed of the termination until the next day. She only learned of the decision when she was unable to clock in.

Brown's treatment violates multiple state and federal laws, her attorneys say. "An employee cannot be fired simply because they are transgender," wrote Carolyn Wald, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Illinois, wrote in a statement. "Circle K's actions were unacceptable and illegal."

"I followed all the rules for taking off on that day so I could celebrate with my community, and they picked that day to terminate me," Brown added. "I felt so humiliated."

According to the complaint, which was filed in federal court on Wednesday, company documents used Brown's former male name, and store manager Wendy Delli used that name and male pronouns in performance reviews. Brown asked Delli to correct the records, but the manager did not do so.

Delli is also accused of suggesting that Brown date customers in exchange for money, telling Brown that she could "imagine the sex" she was having with her boyfriend.

Brown was also slated for a promotion to assistant manager, as she was already performing the work required of that position with only positive feedback. But when a Circle K market manager came to the store, Brown says she made a number of insensitive remarks, including referring to Brown as "you people."

After objecting to that language, Brown was told she would not be promoted, and a cisgender white man who had only recently begun working at the store got the position instead.

Following that, Brown says that Delli began applying undue scrutiny to her work, complaining that Brown was coming in late when in fact her attendance record matched that of other employees.

It's not the first time Circle K has had issues with LGBTQ+ workers. In the 1980s, the company said employee healthcare coverage would no longer cover treatment for HIV/AIDS, saying the condition was a result of "personal lifestyle decisions."

RELATED | Trump Asks Supreme Court to OK Firing Workers for Being Trans

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Matt Baume