Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Smith v. City of Salem United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2004)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant a trans woman lieutenant in the Salem, Ohio, Fire Department, sued the City of Salem, alleging discrimination based on sex in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, after she began expressing a more feminine appearance at work on a full-time basis, her co-workers informed her that she was not acting masculine enough. She then notified her immediate supervisor that she had been diagnosed with gender identity disorder and that she planned to physically transition from male to female. The plaintiff’s supervisor met with the City of Salem’s Law Director and other municipal officials, who required the plaintiff to undergo three psychological evaluations. The plaintiff retained legal counsel, received a “right to sue” letter from the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, and was shortly thereafter suspended for one 24-hour shift, allegedly in retaliation for retaining counsel. The district court dismissed his complaint, but the Sixth Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the plaintiff sufficiently plead a prima facie case of retaliation under Title VII, as well as claims of sex stereotyping and gender discrimination.



Kalich v. AT&T Mobility United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (2012)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination, LGBTIQ, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff-appellant sued his employer, AT&T, in state court under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, and AT&T removed the action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiff alleged that his immediate supervisor made a series of sexually inappropriate comments to him over the course of a year that created a hostile work environment. These comments included calling him by a girl’s name and telling him he looked like a girl. The district court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed, holding that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that his supervisor’s conduct toward him was because of his gender. The appellate court noted that the plaintiff stated in his deposition that he believed that his supervisor made these derogatory comments because he knew or suspected that the plaintiff was gay and that sexual orientation discrimination was not a protected classification under Title VII or Michigan law.



SONKE Gender Justice Network v. Malema Equality Court for the District of Johannesburg (2009)

Gender discrimination, Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

The respondent made comments at a political rally regarding the consent of the complainant in Jacob Zuma's rape trial. Specifically, he opined that a rape victim would leave early in the morning, but the complainant in this case had stayed for breakfast and requested money for a taxi. The plaintiff, a gender justice organization, sued him for hate speech, unfair discrimination, and harassment of women. The court found that the respondent's comments were based on prohibited grounds as outlined in South Africa's Equality Act, specifically sex and gender. The court also found the comments expressed by the respondent constituted "generalizations about women, rape, and consent which reinforce[d] rape myths." Moreover, the respondent's words suggested "that men need not obtain explicit [sexual] consent from women." The court found the respondent liable for hate speech and harassment.  For these reasons, the court concluded the respondent infringed the rights of women and ordered him to pay a fine and make a public apology.