Philadelphia Transgender Man Sues Giant Food Store for Discrimination

The transgender community has come a long way in terms of public acceptance and stigma reduction. Still, there is work to be done for the community. The case of 22 year old Sam Melrath is a clear demonstration of workplace discrimination against the transgender community.

Melrath is currently suing the grocery store chain, Giant, for discrimination based upon his transgender status. Melrath filed a lawsuit this week that claims Giant Food Store’s management placed strong pressure upon him to dress in a way that would conform to the gender he was assigned at birth. The trouble started in 2011 when Sam, after having come out as transgendered to his high school community, took a position as a bagger at a Philadelphia Giant Food Store. He claims that management insisted he dress according to his birth gender and refused to allow him to go by “Sam” instead of the name assigned at birth – despite the fact that many other employees of the store were permitted to go by abbreviated versions of their names. Management allegedly went so far as to threaten that “there will be consequences” if his hair was cut to short. Furthermore, Melrath claims to have been written up for speaking about his ex-girlfriend to a fellow employee and states that he was told to “act normal” while at work.

Melrath claims that he was able to let the above instances go but was compelled to act for justice when the store changed the dress code policy to dictate that employees wear uniforms that coincided with the gender they were assigned at birth. Melrath claims that when he started at the food store, all employees were required to wear button up shirts regardless of their gender. However, after he was hired, the store changed the uniform policy to create male and female uniforms and pressured Melrath to wear the uniform that represented his birth gender. Melrath alleges that he tried to argue the change and said he felt uncomfortable wearing a female uniform but was dismissed. He called a lawyer within an hour of leaving the store that evening.

While the case has yet to come to a decision in court, it stands to act as a precedent for other young transgendered employees in the state. If you have experienced the same treatment as Melrath alleges he endured, contact a Philadelphia employment lawyer today to learn what rights you have. Our lawyers can help you file a lawsuit in a court of law or help you file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

By Bryan Arcé | Published December 1, 2015

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