Woman claims Gwin­nett Tech fired her for com­ing out as trans­gen­der

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Chris­tine Daily, for­mer pro­gram di­rec­tor of Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices at Gwin­nett Tech­ni­cal Col­lege, has filed suit against the school al­leg­ing she was fired for com­ing out as trans­gen­der.

The law­suit, ob­tained by Ge­or­gia Voice, lists the de­fen­dants the Tech­ni­cal Col­lege Sys­tem of Ge­or­gia, Gwin­nett Tech’s pres­i­dent, the for­mer and cur­rent deans of Health Sciences, the vice pres­i­dent of Aca­demic Af­fairs, the for­mer di­rec­tor/co­or­di­na­tor of Hu­man Re­sources and anony­mous work­ers John or Jane Doe.

Gwin­nett Tech­ni­cal Col­lege was ranked the third largest tech­ni­cal col­lege in the state, as of 2015, by the Atlanta Busi­ness Chron­i­cle based on to­tal en­roll­ment.

The law­suit was filed Nov. 11 in fed­eral court in Atlanta and con­tends that the col­lege sub­jected Daily to sex dis­crim­i­na­tion and re­tal­i­a­tion in in vi­o­la­tion of the Equal Pro­tec­tion Clause of the 14th Amend­ment.

Daily filed an ear­lier charge of dis­crim­i­na­tion with the Equal Em­ploy­ment Op­por­tu­nity Com­mis­sion, who on Aug. 24 is­sued No­tice of Right to sue.

Time­line of a ter­mi­na­tion

GTC orig­i­nally hired Daily in 2006 as an in­struc­tor in the Health Sciences Depart­ment, and in 2008 she was pro­moted to pro­gram di­rec­tor of Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices.

Her trou­bles be­gan in May 2016, when she filed a for­mal com­plaint con­cern­ing ha­rass­ment from a co-worker with Steven Moy­ers, the dean of Health Sciences at the time. A meet­ing with Dr. Vic­to­ria Seals, vice pres­i­dent of Aca­demic Af­fairs, was called to dis­cuss the mat­ter. Daily said she in­formed Seals that she was trans­gen­der and planned to pro­ceed with her phys­i­cal tran­si­tion. Seals then re­port­edly sent

Jan­uary 5, 2018

her to Hu­man Re­sources to meet with the depart­ment’s now for­mer Di­rec­tor De­bra Ger­ardo, where she came out to her as trans­gen­der. She said she was told that the depart­ment would dis­cuss the “is­sue” with at­tor­neys be­fore re­vis­it­ing.

In the days fol­low­ing, Daily said Ger­ardo told her she would be re­quired to give 24 hours’ no­tice of a name and sex change. Ger­ardo also al­legedly warned Daily that upon no­ti­fi­ca­tion of the change, she would not be “al­lowed” to al­ter­nate her iden­tity. She was also asked to pre­pare a tran­si­tion time­line, to be re­viewed by Ger­ardo and Seals. Af­ter sub­mit­ting it, Daily claimed Seals in­formed her that the time­line pro­vided would “dis­rupt the education process.” They al­legedly asked that Daily re­frain from pre­sent­ing as her gen­der un­til the Christ­mas break — sev­eral months out.

The Tech­ni­cal Col­lege Sys­tem of Geor- gia’s pol­icy man­ual lists three for­mal lev­els of dis­ci­plinary ac­tion: Re­minder 1, Re­minder 2, and De­ci­sion-Mak­ing Leave. Dur­ing the first meet­ing, the su­per­vi­sor is to in­form the em­ployee that it is their first for­mal re­minder. Af­ter six months or three re­peated re­minder meet­ings, a se­cond re­minder is given. The pol­icy man­ual in­structs that three sit­u­a­tions gen­er­ally lead to a de­ci­sion-mak­ing leave, in­clud­ing a sim­i­lar prob­lem within nine months, three se­cond re­minder meet­ings or suf­fi­ciently se­ri­ous is­sues with per­for­mance, con­duct or at­ten­dance.

How­ever, three months prior to be­ing fired, Daily said Ger­ardo and Seals told her she must take a 24-hour de­ci­sion-mak­ing leave, not giv­ing Daily the op­por­tu­nity to com­plete the first two steps.

Daily, who claimed she never re­ceived a neg­a­tive re­view dur­ing her time there, was fired in Novem­ber 2016. Ger­ardo and Phil Klein, dean of Health Sciences, al­legedly told her she was be­ing ter­mi­nated due to “un­pro­fes­sional con­duct and in­sub­or­di­na­tion” and she was es­corted off the prop­erty.

Courts, Jus­tice Depart­ment dif­fer on Ti­tle VII claims

Daily is seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion for pain, suf­fer­ing and puni­tive dam­ages. Her spe­cific terms are re­in­state­ment or front pay in lieu of re­in­state­ment, pro­vid­ing ap­pro­pri­ate back pay (to be de­ter­mined in trial), com­pen­sa­tion for past and fu­ture fi­nan­cial losses, com­pen­sa­tion for past and fu­ture non-fi­nan­cial losses as well as at­tor­ney’s fees.

GTC’s non-dis­crim­i­na­tion pol­icy states that the col­lege does not dis­crim­i­nate on the ba­sis of race, color, creed, na­tional or eth­nic ori­gin, gen­der, re­li­gion, dis­abil­ity, age, political af­fil­i­a­tion or be­lief, ge­netic in­for­ma­tion, dis­abled vet­eran, spouse of mil­i­tary mem­ber or ci­ti­zen­ship sta­tus. It also en­com­passes the re­cruit­ment and em­ploy­ment of per­son­nel and con­tract­ing for goods and ser­vices.

The 11th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals, which cov­ers Alabama, Ge­or­gia and Florida, es­tab­lished in a 2011 de­ci­sion that Ti­tle VII pro­hibits em­ploy­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion against a trans­gen­der in­di­vid­ual, be­cause gen­der non-con­form­ity amounted to sex dis­crim­i­na­tion.

But in Oc­to­ber of this year, U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions re­versed the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s stance that Ti­tle VII pro­tects trans­gen­der em­ploy­ees. The memo de­clared that Ti­tle VII “does not en­com­pass dis­crim­i­na­tion based on gen­der iden­tity per se, in­clud­ing trans­gen­der sta­tus.”

The state­ment con­flicts with the EEOC’s po­si­tion that Ti­tle VII cov­ers trans­gen­der work­ers, as well as de­ci­sions from courts in the First, Sixth, Ninth and 11th Cir­cuits.

Phillip McCurdy and Emily Bren­ner are the lead at­tor­neys for Chris­tine Daily in her case. No dead­lines or hear­ings have been sched­uled as of press time.

Daily’s at­tor­neys have of­fered the de­fen­dants the op­por­tu­nity to ac­knowl­edge the suit, and nei­ther the de­fen­dants nor their at­tor­neys re­sponded to re­quest for comment from Ge­or­gia Voice.

By ELIZABETH FRIEDLY

Chris­tine Daily filed suit against Gwin­nett Tech Col­lege in fed­eral court on Nov. 11. (Cour­tesy photo)

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