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Lawsuit filed against Bojangles' for treatment of transgender Fayetteville employee

Posted July 6

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— The federal government on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc., claiming that a transgender woman was sexually harassed while employed at a Fayetteville restaurant.

According to the complaint by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 when Jonathan Wolfe, who identifies as a woman, was subjected to a hostile work environment because of her gender identity.

The lawsuit states that Wolfe began working as a biscuit maker at the Bojangles’ on Owen Drive in May 2012 and wore makeup and artificial fingernails.

The lawsuit says that Wolfe’s supervisors made comments about Wolfe’s effeminate mannerisms and told her that she was not welcome in the store when she visited on her day off dressed as a woman. After that incident, a supervisor forbade Wolfe from wearing makeup or false fingernails while on duty.

According to the complaint, Wolfe’s supervisor made comments telling her to “pray to God or go to hell” and that “God made woman for man.”

In January 2013, Wolfe was moved to a cashier position at the front of the store and was told by her supervisor to change her voice, walk and behavior so that she would “look like a male,” the lawsuit states. Shortly after, Wolfe arrived at the store wearing braided extensions in her hair, and the supervisor told Wolfe she would be fired if she did not remove them, according to the suit.

The lawsuit claims that Wolfe complained several times to Bojangles’ management about the harassment, but no action was taken.

Following the complaints, Wolfe was informed that she would be involuntarily transferred to a Bojangles’ restaurant on Raeford Road, but she objected to the transfer.

Several days later, she entered the Owen Drive store as a customer and was told to leave, prompting a call to the Bojangles’ employee hotline, according to the lawsuit. Following that call, Wolfe’s supervisor fired her.

Bojangles spokesman Brian Little says the company a policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex and all other protected characteristics. He says Bojangles' decision to terminate Wolfe because of insubordination and other misconduct rather than sex or gender identity.

The lawsuit is seeking back pay, damages and a court order barring discriminatory actions by Bojangles’ and its employees.


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  • Scooter Barrette Jul 7, 4:29 p.m.
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    And thus is the traditionalist's argument. Just like you said, "that's what it is, you're right I'm wrong!" and with your addition, "I live my life how I want, I will never change".

  • Marty Baker Jul 7, 3:54 p.m.
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    I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, and no one will change mine. That's the right that we still have in this country, and I defend that right whether I agree with someone or not. You saying that someone has no right to how they personally feel is ridiculous. And the last comment you made about me having some sort of "advantage" was just plain stupid. You ultra libs are really losing your minds over transgenders. I choose to live my life the way I think is morally correct, you will never change that. You're the same people that think that two men having sex should be accepted and considered normal. You will never make me think that, no matter how many times you say it. I've had enough fun with you people that think anything, no matter how perverted, should be accepted and celebrated. I think I've said my piece. Have a great day!

  • Scooter Barrette Jul 7, 3:42 p.m.
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    I would dispute this. When integration of the 60's commenced, was it wrong to force all those segregationists to go against what they saw as "normal"? The point is, you say that you're in favor of freedom as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, but policies that allow employers to fire individuals because of their gender identification/appearance is hurtful. Almost as hurtful as discriminating based on nationality or skin color. Defining what's normal automatically makes a certain group of people (who don't fit in that category) suffer the consequences or being harassed (in this case, made fun of and fired). As for your second comment, I think it's example of how younger generations are more comfortable with others. What, you think being uncomfortable around that cashier gives you any advantage other than being meaner than someone who's not?

  • Marty Baker Jul 7, 3:34 p.m.
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    And also, as to the last part of your comment, I had an experience with this very recently with the person checking me out at a local grocery store, and it made me VERY uncomfortable. It was a guy dressed as a girl, but he didn't even shave his little mustache. I choose to not shop at that store again, and that's the right of every consumer. I didn't try to get him fired or anything. He has the right to dress how be wants, and I, along with everyone else, have the right to not accept it.

  • Marty Baker Jul 7, 3:29 p.m.
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    I don't think I ever said that anyone doesn't have the right to be whoever and whatever they want to be. I say live however you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. And obviously, people that are confused about what they physically are do exist. But no matter what anyone says, you don't have the right to make people think it's normal if they don't believe that it is. Would you dispute that?

  • Scooter Barrette Jul 7, 3:19 p.m.
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    I'm confused, Marty, are you denying the existence of transgender folks/ gender dysphoria altogether? Even if you believe that it's just another mental illness, why not let them be who they are (the medically recommended treatment is to just let them be)? Are you in favor of employers discriminating based on the types of hair, voice, and clothes a person wears? I don't know about you, but as a customer of the market, I couldn't care less.

  • Marty Baker Jul 7, 1:45 p.m.
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    Here's a tip. Just because Lady Gaga writes a song about it doesn't make it true. Ignorant people are also born that way, but education can help that.

  • Roberta Rose Jul 7, 1:39 p.m.
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    Again, being liberal or of any religion has nothing to do with this. No one voluntarily chooses to be something on purpose that the rest of the world ridicules. Why would they? Would you purposely choose to be made fun of the rest of your life if you didn't have to? They are the way they are because they were born that way.

  • Marty Baker Jul 7, 1:38 p.m.
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    And if you do just a little research, you'll see that as late as five years ago, it was diagnosed as a mental illness. But I do like the logic of your argument......."that's what it is, I'm right and you're wrong!". You really can't debate with people that have the mindset of eight year olds. You obviously are right.

  • Marty Baker Jul 7, 1:34 p.m.
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    And do you seriously think the federal government would have filed a lawsuit if the exact same charges were alleged by a straight Christian? Of course you don't. You are right about one thing though. If the guy didn't want to follow his employer's rules, he should have just quit. But that wouldn't further the ultra liberal agenda, would it?