Wells Fargo was sued Tuesday by a former employee who alleges she was wrongfully fired because of her decision to transition from a man to a woman.
In her Los Angeles Superior Court complaint, Marco “Marlo Kaitlin” Gallegos alleges discrimination, hostile work environment harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. She seeks unspecified damages.
A Wells Fargo representative said he may have a comment on behalf of the bank later today.
According to the lawsuit, Gallegos was hired at the bank’s consumer call center in El Monte in August 2010.
“Plaintiff held herself out to the public as a man at her hire,” the suit states.
Gallegos began taking testosterone blocker and hormones to transition to a woman in December 2010, and began to wear women’s clothing more often, according to the complaint.
“Her female co-workers were the first to notice her physical transformation,” the suit states. In May 2011, a boss told Gallegos her actions would cause her to go to hell because they were “unnatural” and an “affront to God,” her suit says. Gallegos says she complained to another supervisor, who responded by becoming highly critical of the plaintiff’s work.
Gallegos attempted to transfer to the part of the consumer call center that deals with Spanish-speaking consumers. When a fellow employee found out about her intentions, she asked the plaintiff, “You really think they’re going to give the position to you?,” according to the lawsuit.
Gallegos was allowed to move to the new position, but her colleagues made demeaning comments about her appearance, including, “Oh, I just thought he was an ugly woman,” and nicknamed her “The Mask,” according to her court papers.
Gallegos says she complained again to a supervisor, but to no avail. She eventually changed her first name from Marco to Marlo and adopted the middle name Kaitlin.
Although she requested that her co-workers address her as Marlo, they continued to use her old name, and male colleagues made such comments as “What’s up, man?” and “How are you doing, man?,” the suit alleges.
Although she was given permission to use the women’s restroom, a female co-worker who took exception, the suit states.
Eventually overcome with emotion by her mistreatment on the job, Gallegos told a human resources representative that the “hostile work environment was too much to bear and that she often thought of committing suicide,” the suit states.
Gallegos also maintains she was excluded from mandatory job coaching sessions from meetings between supervisors and employees.
Human resources personnel promised to investigate her complaints, but nothing was done and she lost faith in Wells Fargo’s ability to provide her with a workplace “free from harassment and discrimination,” the suit states.
Gallegos was fired last August after a supervisor told her he received “word from above” that Wells Fargo could not employ her any longer, according to the complaint.
Asked by Gallegos for the reasons behind her firing, the supervisor replied, “There is nothing I can do,” according to the lawsuit.
— Wire reports
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