A former catering worker is suing Bon Appetit Management Co. for $518,000, alleging that the company did not respecting her gender neutrality.
Valeria Jones claims that her co-workers called her female-specific terms like “miss,” “lady” and “little lady” at a Multnomah County branch of the California-based catering enterprise, though Jones identifies as gender-neutral and explained that she was “was not a female or a male and that the term was unwelcome,” according to the lawsuit.
The suit states that Jones began working with the catering outlet in March 2013, the Oregonian reports. She left the gender identity question blank on the application, which did not raise questions. Jones asked the managers to inform the other employees about gender identity issues, but they failed to do so. This caused Jones high levels of emotional distress.
“Plaintiff cried regularly at work and at home during this time,” the suit states.
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Jones eventually quit, alleging that a complaint to human resources was ignored.
Jones and Portland attorney Donal Courtney are asking the catering comoany for $18,682 in lost wages and benefits, plus $500,000 for humiliation and suffering.
Bon Appetit, which owns over 500 catering outlets in 32 states. issued no specific comment on the case. Vice president Maisie Ganzler told the Oregonian, “I can say we are an equal opportunity employer that embraces diversity of all kinds.”
The suit also reports that Jones looked like a certain female celebrity, inviting comparisons from co-workers, Gender Identity Watch reports.
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While “zie” (pronounced “zee”) or “they” are sometimes used by people who identify as gender-neutral, the suit, filed this week in Multnomah County Circuit Court, doesn’t specify if Jones asked to be referred to by a certain pronoun.