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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 15, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 07
Why we have state anti-discrimination laws: Trans woman sues New Jersey restaurant
Section One
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Why we have state anti-discrimination laws: Trans woman sues New Jersey restaurant

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Trans woman has filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey restaurant, charging that she was fired because of her gender identity.

Crystal Aiello worked at Sicilian Sun restaurant for only one day before her employment was terminated. After her first shift in September 2018, she was contacted by the restaurant owner, Jim Boggio, who informed her that her employment had ended.

'Boggio called plaintiff and left a message stating, 'Other servers did not feel like you were a good fit,' and that she did not need to return to the restaurant,' Aiello's court filing says.

'Boggio fired the plaintiff solely because at least one member of the staff was uncomfortable working with a Transgender woman.'

The suit was filed on January 29 in the Superior Court of New Jersey, a state court. New Jersey, like Washington state, is one of 21 states that protect both sexual orientation and gender identity in employment.

Aiello is seeking lost wages, punitive damages, and legal fees in accordance with the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Speaking to NBC News, Aiello's attorney, Kevin Costello, said 'We appreciate, as civil rights attorneys, the difficulties and challenges faced by Transgender people, in today's America especially& We look forward to having process applied to Crystal's case.'

Trans people in states that do not protect gender identity can still file lawsuits, but they typically do so in federal courts, relying on the argument that the Title VII ban on discrimination based on 'sex' also covers gender identity.

This interpretation of the law was supported by the Obama-era Justice Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but it has been rejected by the Trump administration. Today the administration argues that the word 'sex' in Title VII is defined only by gender assigned at birth.

New Jersey has adopted many progressive pro-LGBTI policies in spite of the right-year reign of Republican Chris Christie (January 2010-January 2018).

As of February 1, New Jersey will include the option of having a third, nonbinary gender on birth certificates. The new law, called the Siperstein Act, was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in July last year. The measure is named after Babs Siperstein, a New Jersey native who was the first Trans person to be elected to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2012. Last month, Murphy also signed a bill into law that requires LGBTI-inclusive education in schools across the state. The law will come into effect in the 2020-21 school year.

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