Transgender employee wins legal battle against Army

Discrimination based on gender presentation is illegal and legal remedies are available to victims.

A civilian recently won a case against the Army for discrimination. The worker held a position as a civilian employee at a United States Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center as a Software Quality Assurance Lead. During her work, she alleged that she was the subject of discrimination based on her transgender status. More specifically, she alleged that the Army discriminated against her by restricting her from using the female restroom and when a superior "intentionally and repeatedly referred to her by male pronouns and made hostile remarks."

More on the case

The case, Lusardi v. McHugh, Secretary, Department of the Army, Agency, involved the legal theory of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is generally broken into two categories: quid pro quo which involves requesting sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits and hostile work environment. This case involved a hostile work environment claim.

The claims stem from events that occurred between October 2010 and August 2011. During this time, the complainant was transitioning her gender presentation. She legally changed her name from a masculine to feminine form. Part of her transition involved bathroom use. The complainant's superior was concerned that other female workers would be uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with an individual that presented as a female but was still physically male. As a result, the complainant was offered the use of executive bathroom. On three occasions, she used the women's restroom: when the executive restroom was out of order for several days and once when it was closed for cleaning. On each occasion she was reprimanded.

The second portion of the claim involves a superior that repeatedly called her by her former, male name and used male pronouns like "sir." These were used both verbally and through email.

Based on these exchanges, the employee filed a complaint on March 14 of 2012. The complaint led to an investigation. The investigation was found in favor of the Army. The employee appealed this ruling to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Ultimately, the EEOC found in favor of the employee, finding she was the victim of discrimination. Furthermore, the Agency was ordered to conduct an investigation on the proper amount of compensatory damages and provide it within 120 calendar days. The Agency was also ordered to provide at least eight hours of equal employment opportunity training to all civilian and contract workers and sixteen hours for all management officials at the facility in question.

Implications of the case

This case provides an example of discriminatory practices that can occur within military facilities. If you believe you are the victim of similar practices, legal remedies are likely available. Contact an experienced national military defense attorney to discuss your situation and help better ensure your legal rights and potential remedies are protected.