KANNAPOLIS, NC -- A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges managers and coworkers at a Kannapolis Sam's Club made repeated harassing and discriminatory comments toward a transgender woman employee.
In the lawsuit, Charlene Bost claims she was referred to as "it" and "thing", once she began living as a woman in 2008.
She believes she was wrongfully terminated in 2015 after filing complaints.
Bost is represented in court by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, based in New York City.
"People were calling her by the wrong name and gender, treating her very poorly," said TLDEF's executive director, Jillian Weiss. "She complained to management to explain that she didn't want to be discriminated against and that people harrassing her was not right."
The lawsuit claims that after Bost went to management with those complaints, she was subjected to retaliation and unfair evaluations by management.
"They had some good policies saying they would not discriminate but unfortunately those policies did not reach to the shop floor," said Weiss. "This case is an attempt to say that when there is wrongdoing like that - and the company fails to promptly and effectively take action which they're required to do, to stop that - then they need to be held to account."
Bost was fired in 2015, the lawsuit claims, after management fabricated infractions against her and gave her unfair evaluations. According to the lawsuit, the manager responsible for those evaluations was a male supervisor who often made off-color remarks about Bost and even initiated unwanted physical contact.
Earlier this year, the federal Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a ruling that there was evidence that Bost was discriminated against.
"We're looking for changes to be made in policy in the way that cases are investigated," said Weiss. "Transgender people are simply human beings who are entitled to the same dignity and equal treatment that others are. What Charlene is looking for is to make sure that no one else is treated the way she was treated simply for being who they are."
In a statement to Spectrum News, Sam's Club's parent company, WALMART, said quote:
"Walmart maintains a strong anti-discrimination policy. We support diversity and inclusion in our workforce and do not tolerate discrimination or retaliation of any kind. We disagree with the claims raised by Ms. Bost. Her termination was for performance reasons. We will respond as appropriate with the Court."
The next step is waiting for WALMART to respond to each of Bost's allegations.