A transgender woman has a lawsuit pending Saturday against a carpenter’s union in which she alleges she was subjected to disparate treatment and ultimately fired in February because of her transition in her sexual identity.
The plaintiff is known both as Joshua Baum and Shoshana Baum in her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, in which alleges wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, gender discrimination and harassment, failure to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment and negligent supervision, hiring and retention. Baum seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
An SRCC representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Friday.
“This case involves egregious discrimination and harassment against a transgender employee by a large, powerful labor union that claims to stand for worker’s rights and progressive values,” the suit states.
Baum was hired in March 2022 as a research analyst in SRCC’s downtown Los Angeles office and worked in the contract administration department, which performed the union’s core functions, the suit states.
Baum thought she had obtained an ideal position working for the SRCC and was eager to put her urban planning expertise to good use to advance equitable housing policy and to create good-paying union jobs throughout Los Angeles, according to her suit.
“But Baum’s dream job became a nightmare when Baum began visibly presenting as gender queer and transitioning her gender identity,” the suit states.
Last June, Baum arrived at work with a professional manicure with red nail polish from the West Hollywood Pride weekend and she also put an LGBTQ flag at her desk, the suit states. She spoke openly with her colleagues that she lived in West Hollywood, had attended West Hollywood Pride events and was passionate about LGBTQ issues, the suit states.
“Baum thought she would be safe to live authentically at an employer that claimed to stand for worker’s rights and progressive values,” the suit states.
But Baum was wrong and she soon received a “harsh and unwelcoming reaction” from her supervisor and colleagues, according to the suit, which further states that shortly thereafter, Baum’s workload was significantly reduced and she did not receive any new assignments for over a month and stopped receiving any new training or feedback on her work.
As Baum presented herself as more visibly transfeminine, she experienced a “harsh and unwelcoming reaction from her co-workers and supervisors,” and when her boss often ignored her, she felt isolated and humiliated, the suit states.
Baum was fired Feb. 17 and told by her supervisor that it was because of her “lack of skills,” even though she never had a negative performance evaluation, the suit states.
“Baum was fired for one reason only: the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters did not want a transgender woman as an employee,” the suit alleges.
Since her firing, Baum has suffered severe anxiety, humiliation, the inability to eat, loss of sleep, physical injury and emotional distress, as well as a loss of earnings, the suit states.
Baum’s suit comes four years after another SRCC employee sued for gender and sexual orientation discrimination and harassment, the suit states.
“(SRCC) clearly failed to institute any measures to address and root out the culture of homophobia and discrimination that has taken root at the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters,” the suit states.