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Dismissal of bias suit filed by transgendered worker upheld on appeal


An appellate court has upheld dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit filed by a transgendered worker who was terminated as a part of a reduction-in-force, ruling there were legitimate reasons for her dismissal.

When Janis Stacy began work as an engineer at Allentown, Pa.-based Agere Systems Inc. in 1998, she had a “traditional masculine appearance,” wore male clothing and went by the name “Jim,” according to Wednesday's ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in Janis Stacy v. LSI Corp., Agere Systems Inc.

In 2002, Ms. Stacy was diagnosed with “gender identity disorder” and began undergoing treatment including psychological counseling and hormonal therapy, according to the ruling.

In 2005, as part of her treatment, she proceeded to make a full transition to a female gender identity. In addition, she disclosed her gender identity at work, became known as “Janis” and wore feminine attire. She also had multiple surgeries to change her physical appearance, according to the ruling.

In 2006, following a return from one of her surgeries, she was reassigned to different group.

In 2007, Agere Systems, which had a policy expressly prohibiting gender discrimination, merged with San Jose, Calif.-based LSI Corp., which did not. Following the merger, the combined firm engaged in a series of layoffs, eliminating about 3,770 positions between April 2007 and December 2007, said the ruling.


In December 2007 or January 2008, a supervisor was instructed to reduce his workforce by eight employees. On a ranking of five particular skills — execution, teamwork, communication, technical versatility and customer focus — Ms. Stacy was ranked the lowest of her three-member group, and she was terminated.

Ms. Stacy filed suit charging Agere and LSI with unlawful discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964, and various state charges.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit upheld a ruling by the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia granting the defendants summary judgment dismissing the case. The record “reveals that Defendants were engaging in a series of layoffs due to the declining economy, and, as result, had already laid off more than 3,000 employees prior to Stacy's termination,” said the appellate ruling.

“The record also indicates that Stacy supported a product line in which Defendants decided to no longer invest and it was only at that point that Stacy's group was selected” for the reduction in force, it said.

“Stacy's argument in support of her pretext claim appears to consist of nothing more than baseless allegations,” said the ruling. “We find no discriminatory connection between the merger, the alleged changes in policy and her termination.

“We also find no evidence in the record, beyond her own testimony, to support any of the assertions she made regarding discriminatory comments and backlash. Accordingly we find Stacy's argument insufficient to rebut Defendant's justification for her termination,” said the appeals panel, in upholding dismissal of the case.