On Wednesday, a transgender woman named Charlene Bost filed a federal lawsuit against Sam’s Club, alleging she was discriminated against while working at a North Carolina location, then fired in 2015 after complaining about harassment.
The Associated Press reports that Bost began working at Sam’s club in 2004, and had not yet begun her transition. She was promoted to supervisor and did well at work—until she became open about her gender identity in 2008. Bost began to wear make up and grow out her hair, and alleges her co-workers and other managers started making disparaging comments about her:
In 2014, one co-worker told a customer as Bost walked by: “Here comes that thing with an attitude,” the lawsuit says.
Bost, who’s now 46, said she was repeatedly harassed by a man who became her direct supervisor when he was promoted to assistant manager in 2014. The lawsuit said he called her “it” in front of other employees, made off-color jokes and initiated unwanted physical contact.
Bost is represented by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, who are also working on a case filed by trans woman who alleges she was harassed by a supervisor while working in a Florida Sam’s Club. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found in July of 2017 that there was evidence of discrimination in that case, and agreed with the evidence in Bost’s complaints as well. The EEOC attempted a conciliation process between Bost and the company, but it failed.
Bost believes she was fired after managers fabricated written infractions against her, but a spokesman for Walmart, which is Sam’s Club’s parent company, maintained that her performance was the real issue in a statement:
“We disagree with the claims raised by Ms. Bost. Her termination was for performance reasons,” said spokesman Randy Hargrove. He said that the company “maintains a strong anti-discrimination policy.”