Jessi Dye was called into her supervisor’s office on November 26, 2014. It was her first day on the job at Summerford Nursing Home in Falkville; her supervisor had several questions that he wanted to be answered and he didn’t hold back from asking them. “What are you?” he asked her as he referred to her driver’s license which identified her as male. “I always felt female. I never felt an attachment to paperwork” was her response. He then questioned what to do with her and how she would be able to deal with patients if she looked female but was listed as male, as stated in her license.
She asked him “Am I being fired for being who I am?” and he blatantly said “yes.” As reported by her; he then asked her to get her things and get out.
28-year-old Dye, although born male, had always better identified with being female. She remembers early memories of arguing with her mother over wanting a Barbie doll at Walmart. By the time she was 12 or 13 she began calling local plastic surgeons about gender reassignment surgery. At age 21, she came out to her parents as a transgender and soon began to transition from male to female.
There are approximately 700,000 transgender people living in the U.S as reported by ABC news online when they wrote an article as part of Diane Sawyer’s exclusive interview with Bruce Jenner. They had experts answer questions pertaining to transgender people, but the article does state that the number of transgender people is probably much higher as indicated by the transgender community.
After Dye was fired, she contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) so that she could file a complaint for discrimination against her former employer. The law organization did so, under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits job discrimination based on sex, color, national origin, race, and religion. In this case, it prohibits discrimination of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Sam Wolfe, SPLC senior staff attorney who worked on behalf of Dye said “The facts were very clear that the reasons she was fired from her job was because she is transgender,” Before the case was investigated further, Summerford contacted him to try and get the situation resolved, said Wolfe.
By Thursday, the SPLC made the announcement that a settlement had been agreed upon between Dye and Summerford, which required the nursing home to establishing provisions to make rules against transgender discrimination and for their employees to attend LGBT training. In addition, the company settled for an undisclosed financial settlement as well.
Wolfe said “I think that with Jessi speaking out, it should be an inspiration for transgender individuals throughout Alabama and in the South that it is wrong to face discrimination, showing an example of being able to stand up, speak out and call out behavior that is hurtful that too many transgender individuals continue to face.”
Dye said it was not about the money “It was more about letting people know that as transgender people, we have the same equal rights as everyone else and that under the law, we are protected just like anyone else.”
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