Kirsten Andersen


Federal appeals court rules transsexual’s firing was not discrimination

Kirsten Andersen

PHILADELPHIA, December 10, 2013 ( – A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court’s decision dismissing a lawsuit filed by a male-to-female transsexual who claimed his firing was discriminatory.

Jim Stacy, who had a sex change operation in 2005 and now goes by “Janis,” was laid off by Agere Systems in 2008, along with nearly 4,000 colleagues, following a merger with LSI Corporation.   

Stacy, who had worked for Agere for ten years as an engineer, sued the company, claiming that he was targeted for elimination on the basis of his sex, disability and gender identity.

But the court rejected his lawsuit, ruling that the company’s explanation for his firing was satisfactory and had nothing to do with his sex change.

According to court documents, when Stacy was hired in 1998, he “had a traditional masculine appearance, wore male clothing, and went by the name ‘Jim.’”  But in 2002, he was diagnosed with gender identity disorder, believing he was really a woman trapped in a man’s body.  In 2005, he underwent a sex change operation and took hormones to make himself appear more female.  All the while, he continued working for Agere. 

The company’s human resources department went out of its way to make sure Stacy felt comfortable in his new, female identity at work.  According to court documents, his coworkers were subjected to lectures and group presentations on how to be sensitive to his needs as a transsexual. 

But after the merger in 2007, Stacy’s supervisor was forced to cut eight positions from his department, and one of them was Stacy’s.  The engineer was in charge of a product line that was going to be discontinued, and out of the three employees working on that project, his boss rated him the poorest at “execution, teamwork, communication, technical versatility, and customer focus,” according to court records. 

Stacy’s lawsuit alleged that his department was selected for layoffs by the company “for the purpose of targeting [him]” and that the evaluation process had “serious weaknesses.”  He accused the company of using the layoffs as a cover for discrimination.    

However, both the lower court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the case, saying Stacy “failed to put forth any evidence” to support his claims.

“We are unpersuaded by Stacy’s allegations,” the 3-judge panel wrote.  “The record reveals that defendants were engaging in a series of layoffs due to the declining economy and, as a result, had already laid off more than 3,000 employees prior to Stacy's termination.”

Noting that Stacy was “unable to point to any inconsistencies or contradictions” in the company’s side of the story, the Court ruled in the company’s favor. 

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