We are currently representing a transgender woman in a federal lawsuit recently filed in Houston. Our client is suing Phillips 66 Company for sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The main issues in the case break down as follows:
The Application and Background Check
In March 2015, our client, who had previously undergone gender-reassignment surgery, applied for an engineering position at one of Phillips 66's refineries. The interview panel indicated that "they were lucky to have found someone like her" because she had the skill set for the job.
Five months after applying, she was offered the position of reliability engineer. A company called HireRight then conducted a background check, and our client provided HireRight with tax forms to confirm her previous employment.
During the background check, HireRight discovered our client's previous male name and that she had transitioned from male to female.
HireRight's overall conclusion: our client met company standards; the results of the background check were sent to Phillips 66; and she was cleared for employment.
Phillips 66's human resources manager called our client the month after she was offered the job, and the HR manager claimed that our client had lied about the dates of employment at her previous position.
As our client said, though, the discrepancy was due to a clerical error. The hiring process continued, and the company nurse medically cleared our client for employment.
Phillips 66 Rescinds the Offer
Our client came to understand that the HR manager knew about the previous gender transition, and our client suspected that the transition was the real reason the HR manager claimed that our client had lied, so our client emailed the HR manager.
An excerpt from that email reads as follows: "I became aware that you all found out that I am a transsexual woman. No one ever comes out and says that is why they do not want you. But to make up a false reason is not Christian."
Our client also noted in the email that Phillips 66's own diversity policy, along with federal laws, prohibit the company from taking back the employment offer on the basis of her gender identity.
Still, a few days later, the HR manager sent our client a letter saying that the job offer had to be rescinded due to employment discrepancies.
Employment discrimination is all too common.
The reality is that employers often contradict or ignore discrimination policies when hiring new personnel. It is usually up to employees or potential employees to have the courage to challenge these types of unfair -- and illegal -- hiring practices.
In these situations, it helps to have a strong and dedicated employment lawyer on your side.
Employees in Texas with employment law concerns may want to follow this case as it progresses.