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Alabama nursing home settles discrimination case after firing transgender woman

The company has agreed to implement a new policy prohibiting such discrimination.

Jessi Dye was fired on her first day at an Alabama nursing home – solely for being transgender.

“I was looking forward to my new position and heartbroken when I was fired because of my gender and not my qualifications for the job,” said Dye, 28.

That was last fall.

Now, the nursing home has agreed to settle a discrimination complaint brought by the SPLC in what may be the first successful resolution of a transgender employment claim against a private employer in Alabama.

Dye, of Vinemont, was hired last year by Summerford Nursing Home Inc., a privately held nursing home company with 200 employees based in Falkville.

On Nov. 26, after a half day of new employee training on her first day, a senior management official called Dye to his office. He questioned her about her sex, gender identity and physical anatomy, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“What are you?” the management official asked.

When Dye replied that she was a transgender woman, he asked how she expected to work with residents when she “looked one way” and was “another way” on paper. She was told she was being terminated, effective immediately, and to leave the facility.

Dye asked if she was being let go for being transgender, and the senior official confirmed that was the case, the complaint said.

“No one should be discriminated against and kept from employment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Dye said. “I hope by taking a stand about what happened to me, it will help others in the LGBT community realize they have a right to equal treatment.”

To resolve the March EEOC complaint, the nursing home has agreed to an undisclosed financial settlement and will immediately implement a new policy prohibiting sexual orientation and gender discrimination. Human resource personnel and the official who terminated Dye will attend LGBT sensitivity and legal rights training provided by the SPLC. As part of the settlement, the EEOC claim is resolved and the business does not admit to violating any law.

“The nursing home has done the right thing by resolving this case short of federal litigation,” said Sam Wolfe, SPLC staff attorney. “Good jobs are hard to come by in Alabama, and no one should lose her job simply because she is transgender or because of some other aspect of who she is that has no bearing on job performance. ”

The resolution comes at a time of increased national attention to issues involving workplace equality. While this case might be the first resolution of an Alabama case involving a private employer, earlier this year the EEOC ruled in favor of a transgender employee of the U.S. Army who was based in Huntsville, Alabama.

In April, the SPLC and co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit against a Louisiana company for unlawfully firing a transgender man. That suit is ongoing.