Transgender Worker Alleges Wrongful Termination from North Carolina Sam’s Club

3D illustration by Quince Media

Special thanks to Quince Media for the 3D illustration.

Charlene Bost filed a federal lawsuit alleging that she wrongfully terminated from a Sam’s Club in North Carolina in 2015 after she filed formal complaints where she alleged harassment. Bost, a transgender woman, began working at Sam’s Club in 2004 before she began her transition. She alleged that before she began her transformation, she was promoted and received praise for work.

EEOC: Sam’s Club Was a Hostile Work Environment for Charlene Bost

In 2014, Charlene Bost filed a complaint with EEOC regarding her work environment at Sam’s Club. The EEOC issued a decision in 2017 that Bost’s work environment was hostile. Sam’s Club disagreed with the EEOC’s finding. While the parties engaged in a mediation process, a conclusion was not reached. The EEOC gave Charlene Bost the right to sue Sam’s Club.

Bost Allegations Include Harassment by Co-workers and Supervisors

In 2008, Bost began the transformation process. As Bost began to wear longer hair and use make-up, she alleges in the lawsuit that she was harassed by both coworkers and managers. She alleges in 2014, a former co-workers said to a Sam’s Club customer, “Here comes that thing with an attitude.”

Bost alleges that in 2014 the assistant manager called her “it” and “shim” in front of other workers, engaged in offensive jokes at her expense, and initiated unwanted contact. She also alleges in the lawsuit that this particular assistant manager lied about her so that she would be fired.

However, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., representative Randy Hargrove said, “We disagree with the claims raised by Ms. Bost. Her termination was for performance reasons.” He went on to say that the company “maintains a strong anti-discrimination policy” and supports inclusion and diversity while not tolerating discrimination.

Lawsuit Asks Court for Improved Harassment Training

Because of North Carolina’s bathroom bill uproar and partial repeal, the requests made by Bost’s legal team, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, aren’t all that surprising. In addition to unspecified monetary damages, Bost also requests that the company improve its training regarding harassment based on gender identity. Jillian Weiss, Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund believes that while Wal-Mart, as a parent organization, may have good anti-harassment policies in place, but they must enforce them and not just acknowledge that they have them.