A transsexual former employee of Burlington Coat Factory filed a discrimination suit against the company, claiming she endured seven years of verbal and physical abuse from supervisors, colleagues and customers after undergoing sexual reassignment surgery.
Steven Wicks-Perez transitioned from a man to a woman in 2001, taking the new name Maya. Perez said supervisors encouraged the transition but in the following seven years continually harassed her.
Perez said she was exposed to sexual conversations and pornography; that co-workers grabbed and touched her breasts, buttocks and genitals; and that customers verbally and physically assaulted her.
"It was horrifying and humiliating," Perez said during a news conference at the Legal Aid Society, the nonprofit legal organization representing her. "No other employee was allowed to be treated the way that I was."
Perez said she continually complained to management and was terminated in January.
Perez' suit is one of the first cases brought on behalf of a transgender employee in California since the state amended the Fair Employment and Housing Act in 2004 to clarify that discrimination on the basis of sex specifically includes gender identity and expression, said Elizabeth Kristen, one of Perez's attorneys.