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Transgender auto mechanic's sex bias case reinstated

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A federal appeals court has reinstated a sex discrimination case filed by an auto mechanic who claimed she was terminated because she was transgendered.

Jennifer Chavez, a former auto mechanic at Austell, Georgia-based Credit Nation Auto Sales L.L.C., informed her employer of her gender transition on Oct. 28, 2009, and was fired less than three months later, on Jan. 11, 2010, according to last week’s ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta in Jennifer Chavez. v. Credit Nation Auto Sales L.L.C.

Ms. Chavez filed suit in January 2013, charging sex discrimination in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The District Court granted Credit Nation summary judgment dismissing the lawsuit, and Ms. Chavez appealed.

Credit Nation’s reason that it had fired Ms. Chavez, which was because she had slept for 40 minutes in a repair customer’s vehicle while on the clock, was both “true and legitimate”, said a unanimous three-judge appeals court panel in its Jan. 14 ruling.

However, Ms. Chavez presented circumstantial evidence to show “discriminatory animus” was at least a motivating factor in her termination, according to the unpublished ruling.

For instance, said the ruling, even though Ms. Chavez changed into a uniform before her shift started and shortly before leaving work each day, the owner asked her not to wear a dress back and forth to work, explaining it would be “disruptive.”

“Chavez has also offered evidence suggesting Credit Nation subjected her to heightened scrutiny after learning about her gender transition plan and was simply looking for a legitimate work-related reason to terminate her,” said the ruling, in reinstating the case.