Gender-neutral worker sues employer for ignoring misgendering concerns

gender neutralLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — A worker who identifies as gender-neutral is suing a Portland, Oregon area employer after they failed to stop co-workers from addressing the employee as a female.

Valeria Jones is suing Bon Appetit Management Co. for humiliation and suffering following repeated attempts to get the unwelcome misgendering stopped. Complaints to managers and human resources went unanswered. Jones has since quit working for the company.

Jones is suing for $518,000. Jones’ attorney made no comments and the company stated that they are an equal opportunity employer that embraces diversity of all kinds.


If Jones did indeed ask the employer put a stop to this and they took no action, Jones has a valid claim, because, after all, it amounts to bullying by both coworkers and the employer.

gender neutral


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Categories: Discrimination, Equality, Civil Rights, Transgender, Transsexual, Trans, Transphobia, exploitation, dehumanizing, violence, hate

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24 replies

  1. Gender-neutral ? […it doesn’t work this way ]
    Dr James Barrett

  2. There is no such creature is gender-neutral. You will be perceived is male or female. The idea it one wishes to be called IT. just amazes me. And you’re going to sue Americans must be the most sue crazy people on the planet. That’s one of the reasons our medical costs are so ridiculous. Please stay out of our courts with your silliness my God Get a life

    • Most gender-neutral individuals prefer the singular “they”, actually. And there are actually people who identify as both male and female or as neither male nor female.
      However, even as someone who identifies as gender-neutral, I will agree that it isn’t worth suing someone over. If it bothers you that much then it’s better to either grow a backbone and deal with it or find a new job with an employer and coworkers who are more respectful instead of making a big deal out of it (especially if Jones was being referred to by their legal sex- in other words, what their employer would have on record). Some people just tend to make the rest of us look bad by taking legal actions over what isn’t really discrimination (discrimination would have been refusing someone a job based on gender identity, whereas misgendering someone is being ignorant but not outright discrimination). I know the article says she has a valid claim, but I personally don’t consider verbal bullying to be valid, especially when you should be old enough to deal with it. The fact that bullying is considered a legitimate claim just comes to show how America is becoming a victim culture.
      In short, although the employer and coworkers should have shown the human decency to use Jones’s preferred pronouns after being specifically asked, the issue wasn’t worth a lawsuit. When someone gets to that point, they’re just reinforcing the annoying “all LGBT people are whiny” stereotype and probably trying to make some quick cash.

      • ” If it bothers you that much then it’s better to either grow a backbone and deal with it or find a new job with an employer and coworkers who are more respectful instead of making a big deal out of it ”

        Please don’t spew your privilege here.

      • Not to mention “Jones has since quit working for the company.”

    • What the hell is with these comments? Misgendering means referring to someone as a gender they don’t identify as. Which is exactly what’s going on here. If Jones identifies as gender neutral, it means they don’t identify as female (or male). Calling someone female when they don’t identify as female is misgendering. Not sure why that’s so hard to get.

      One of these comments says “you will be perceived as male or female”. First of all, that’s not true. I know plenty of people who do not look particularly male or female. Second, here’s an example: I’m a cis female, but if you decided that I looked like a boy for whatever reason (you “perceived” me as male or decided I didn’t “pass” as female in your opinion) you would feel justified in calling me a “he”? That makes no sense. I thought people on here would be able to understand the concept of “not everyone looks like what they are”…

      Also, I don’t think anyone wants to be called “it”. “They” or “ze/hir/etc.” maybe. Or just their name.

      • Sorry, but “Valeria” is feminine, and if Jones doesn’t want to be identified by a specific gender, they should adopt a “gender neutral” name. “Tobacco Jones?” “Glass Jones? This is their own doing.
        They are not a “protected class” under any reasonable interpretation of the 14th amendment,

      • There are people who would enjoy reclaiming the word it, myself included. There are not a lot of us though as it is highly stigmatized.

    • “No such creature” LOL you need to take a 3rd grade biology class then

    • It amazes me when someone wants to be called male or female but I don’t go out and try to make it so they can’t.

  3. I am all for gender neutrality and everything LGBT related, and in being a lexiphile I know that words carry power and people should be addressed as they see fit. But it’s not practical to not use prononouns. “Valeria said Valeria wants you to meet Valeria in the back to discuss how you’ve been addressing Valeria.” Ugh. I understand gender neutrality, but sometimes you just have to let things slide. Now there could be more to this story, such as if Valeria is actually being addressed as “a woman” be it verbally or in paperwork or something, but all in all, yeah seems a little sue happy to me.

  4. Misgendering is a legitimate issue for people who are genuinely transgender, but when it comes to someone who is gender-neutral, I find arguments about misgendering to be significantly less persuasive. Most people only have two mental boxes for gender – male and female – and while it’s easy to ask someone to use the opposite pronoun, asking them to use neither is extremely problematic due to the fact that the English language lacks a singular third-person gender-neutral pronoun (the word “they” is generally considered to be plural).

    In Swedish, creating such a pronoun was relatively easy because their traditional gendered pronouns are “han” and “hon,” respectively, and from there it’s an extremely small step to simply introduce the gender-neutral “hen.” But English is different, and while there have been attempts to create equivalent pronouns, such as “ze/zir/zis,” these typically sound strange, and don’t really feel like genuine English words (I personally think they sound more like German). As a result, such pronouns haven’t caught on with the general public, and even within the LGBT community, their usage is limited.

    I don’t know what pronouns the individual in this case preferred, but if it was anything other than the traditional male/female pronouns, demanding that other people use them outside of a specifically tailored LGBT environment (such as TLC or HRC) is highly unreasonable, and only serves to weaken the arguments of the transgender community, making it more difficult for the rest of us to defend our rights in the future. Filing a lawsuit was an especially bad move, and I expect this individual to lose their case, which sets a bad legal precedent for actual transgender people who have to deal with real persecution.

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone — keep them coming. In this case, the co-workers kept using “miss” and other obviously female terms even though they were asked not to.

  6. The thing is, you usually don’t use pronouns when the person is right in front of you, you use their name. I wonder if they went out of their way to emphasize gender pronouns or saying “miss” as a way of bullying? I wonder what the details are here?
    It’s also a good example of how language affects perceptions. There is unfortunately little room for hybridity in such a polarized cultural and linguistic system as ours.

    • Most likely its either that or the patriarchal society we live in where men have to objectify those they see as female “Hey sweetheart, darling, miss” etc

  7. The report in itself is rather sketchy, I’m afraid. It doesn’t state how Valeria would want to be adressed or if the misgendering adressing was intentional or more like slips of the tongue. I know that beiïng misadressed can really hurt you. It still happens to me on a regular basis, by both family and strangers. On the other hand: place yourself in the other persons shoes. Wouldn’t it be confusing to quite suddenly having to change one’s perception of thousand’s of years of years of gender-identification? Even for me as a post op MtF that whole idea is still bewildering, so how would that be for cis people that don’t generally come into contact with transgenders? I think “mistakes”are very likely to be made. And then I am just a straight forward MtF. With gender-neutral people, the confusion gets complete I think. I certainly wouldn’t know how to correctly adress such a person. People are no objects so “It” is no option. I guess new words need to be added to the dictionaries. As in so many cases, I don’t think that sueing is a good idea for Valeria, that usually hardens the positions of both sides. Open, honest communication, humor and understanding of each other’s positions would be a much better way.

    • Can we stop with the victim blaming here jesus christ

      • that’s not victim blaming

        • Yes, it is. The suit alleges that they told the coworkers and employer about the situation and it continued with possible prejudicial overtones, as in harassment or bullying; thus, to use Joan’s descriptor, their position was already “hardened”, and to put the onus of variant action on Val of what she may have already tried (Open, honest communication, humor and understanding) is victim blaming.

          However, Anonymous’s post may also be “victim blaming” because jesus christ is usually seen as the victim, not the victimizer, although Ze may see things differently now.

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