(CN) – A transgender woman claims in court that she was called “it” and “thing” by co-workers and then wrongfully fired from a North Carolina Sam’s Club store after repeatedly complaining about harassment.
In a federal lawsuit filed in the Middle District of North Carolina on Wednesday, plaintiff Charlene Bost says she hadn’t yet transitioned to life as a woman when she began working at a Sam’s Club in a suburb of Charlotte in 2004.
Bost says until she began expressing her feminine identity in 2008, she was made to feel like a valued employee and was promoted to supervisor. But all that changed when she began presenting herself as a woman and started growing her hair long and wearing makeup to work.
In one incident, she says, a co-worker turned to a customer as she walked by and said, “Here comes that thing with an attitude.”
She also claims that her direct supervisor repeatedly referred to her as “it” in front of other employees and made obscene jokes about her.
Over time, Bost says, the assistant manager began fabricating written infraction against her, which led to her firing.
In late 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded there was evidence Bost faced a hostile work environment, but Sam’s Club denied the allegations.
After a failed conciliation process, the EEOC recognized Bost’s right to sue her former employer.
The lawsuit alleges Sam’s Club violated federal workplace discrimination laws by creating a hostile environment and then retaliating against her complaints by firing her.
Bost seeks unspecified compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages, injunctive relief as well as an order directing Sam’s Club to adopt policies and provide employment opportunities to transgender individuals.
A representative of Sam’s Club did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.