A transgender worker
who underwent transitional surgery while employed at a
Burlington Coat Factory in San Francisco claims that she
endured seven years of sexual harassment, prompting a lawsuit
against the company.
Maya Perez said she
decided to have sex-reassignment surgery to transition from
male to female while employed with the company, according to
the Legal Aid Society. "One of my supervisors kept
encouraging me to transition," Perez said in a statement
on Tuesday, "but then when I talked to senior Burlington
management about it, I was told that it was wrong."
Between 2001, when she
had the surgery, and 2008, Perez said she endured groping, a
supervisor who subjected her to sexually graphic conversations,
and customers who were allowed to physically and verbally
assault her. Management failed to intervene to stop the abuse,
despite several complaints by Perez.
The Legal Aid Society
Employment Law Center filed complaints on Perez's behalf of
sexual harassment and discrimination on Tuesday with the San
Francisco superior court.
"San Francisco is
noted for its tolerance, yet Ms. Perez's experience at
Burlington Coat Factory shows that we still have work to
do," said Elizabeth Kristen, an attorney representing
Perez. "A large percentage of transgender individuals
living in the Bay Area have experienced harassment or
discrimination in the workplace, which contributes to a high
rate of unemployment among this population. It's a serious
problem that needs to be addressed." (Michelle Garcia,