The plaintiff took issue with the giant retailer’s policy of allowing transgender people to use the restroom that aligns with their gender identity. The plaintiff, who worked as HR manager for Plant-N-Power Services in Louisiana, posted a derogatory comment about a transgender person using the restroom at a Target in Baton Rouge on her Facebook page on April 22, 2016. That post was shared with her employer’s president and vice president of Eastern operations.
The plaintiff, responding to a text from the vice president of her firm, wrote back complaining of discrimination because she is heterosexual. After a conference call with the president and a lawyer for the company, she was told she needed to take a sensitivity/diversity training class and would not be allowed to use social media to recruit.
The plaintiff sued after she was fired in late June 2016 and alleged that, in the lead up to being dismissed, she was harassed by the president. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed a district court ruling that the employer was not in violation for the claims, noting that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case in October.
“Employers face difficult choices when an employee posts angry or politically incorrect material online against a protected group,” Rhodes writes. “Nevertheless, decisions like those made in this case show that employers can often discipline employees when they do make such posts without incurring liability.”