Editor’s note: GA Voice Deputy Editor Dyana Bagby is covering today’s court hearing. Please return for updates.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will hear arguments in the federal discrimination lawsuit filed by a Georgia transgender woman who was fired from her state job after informing her employer she was transitioning from male to female.
Vandy Beth Glenn, represented by nonprofit LGBT legal organization Lambda Legal, sued the state of Georgia after she was fired in 2007 as a legislative editor for the Georgia General Assembly.
In July 2010 a federal judge ruled the state illegally discriminated against Glenn and in August the judge ordered she be reinstated back to her job. During the appeals process, however, Glenn has been receiving her 2007 salary but has not been able to return to her job.
The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, originally named as defendants General Assembly Legislative Counsel Sewell Brumby, former state House Speaker Glenn Richardson, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, former state Senate President Pro Tempore and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Johnson, and Robyn J. Underwood, the General Assembly’s legislative fiscal officer.
Richardson, Cagle, Johnson and Underwood were dismissed from the suit by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story with only Brumby remaining as a defendant. Sewell retired from his job in August after working for the state for more than 30 years in August.
“By operation of law, his successor is substituted as the defendant, and the case proceeds as usual,” explained Greg Nevins, Lambda Legal supervising senior staff attorney from Atlanta who will be arguing the case on behalf of Glenn.
Brumby stated during court depositions that the thought of someone with male sexual organs in women’s clothing was “unsettling” to him, was “something I don’t like to think about,” and was something he viewed as “unnatural.” Brumby also freely admitted he thought Georgia legislators would think Glenn’s presence at the Capitol would be “immoral.”
He also stated in depositions that keeping Glenn on the job “was inappropriate, that it would be disruptive, that some people would view it as a moral issue, and that it would make Glenn’s coworkers uncomfortable,” according to Story’s 50-page ruling.
“We’re looking forward to making our case at the Eleventh Circuit,” said Nevins in February.
“It is clear Vandy Beth Glenn was fired because her boss didn’t like her as she is. That is unfair and illegal. The law is on our side here, but transgender employees are still vulnerable to sex discrimination from their employers who don’t understand it. A clear statement from Congress — made by passing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act — would protect LGBT employees and provide helpful, clear guidance to employers. Because nobody wants the right to sue as much as they want to be free of work-place discrimination in the first place.”
Glenn was awarded the Leon Allen & Winston Johnston Community Service Award at the Atlanta Human Rights Campaign Dinner in May 2010. Glenn also testified before Congress on the need to pass an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act in September 2009.
She is slated to speak at this year’s annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20 at the State Capitol.
Top photo: Vandy Beth Glenn was fired from her job as legislative editor for the Georgia General Assembly in 2007. She sued in federal court and won and now her case is set to be argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Eleventh Circuit by Lambda Legal attorney Greg Nevins on Dec. 1. (file)