A lorry driver fired for wearing women's clothes away from work is firing back with a web site attacking his former employer, Winn-Dixie Stores. The US supermarket chain is seeking to shut it down. Peter Oiler, the trannie trucker who worked for the company for 21 years, is the figurehead of ShameOnWinnDixie.com, a web site supported and maintained by American Civil Liberties Union activists.
OK, here's the thing: Mr Oiler no doubt has the unequivocal right to express his opinions about his firing. I am less sanguine about his right to publish his former supervisors' work phone numbers, although it may well be that they are available on Winn-Dixie's own site, or somewhere easily available. I am entirely convinced that he's got some abominable legal representation; you do NOT engage in this sort of provocation when you've got a case in progress. It tends to piss off judges most thoroughly.
Make no mistake: the primary reason for the site's existence may or may not be to allow Mr Oiler to express himself, but a major reason is that it was dangled out there as lawsuit bait. From the warning letter that was sent out, it's clear that it succeeded ... although I expect not entirely as planned. (For one thing, it seems to have been around for a little while before Winn-Dixie even noticed.) Although there would be no confusing the site with Winn-Dixie's main corporate site, under most ICANN rules and trademark/copyright cases, the domain name probably constitutes a misuse of trademark. Where Winn-Dixie goes awry in their letter is that they should have requested that the site stop using a domain name containing their trademark; instead, they request that the site be removed from the internet. Wrong wrong wrong. They overstep.
As far as the actual case itself goes, Oiler certainly has grounds to sue ... although based on what I've read, not under the discrimination laws that he's charging. And frankly, although I think most people would agree that you have every right to live your private life as you see fit, I'm baffled as to which laws would cover this. Sex discrimination seems like improper grounds for the suit. That said, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has in fact granted Oiler the right to sue for employment discrimination. The facts of the case make Winn-Dixie look about as bad as they possibly could; they simply have no legal basis for trying to regulate their employee's home lives in that way. (I just have an odd feeling that the claims for relief are coming from the wrong direction as far as the law is concerned. Women and men don't have analogous places in society when it comes to clothing; it's considered acceptable for women to wear men's clothing -- if pants are called "men's clothing" -- and it's not considered acceptable for men to wear a dress.)
Oiler's own opinion of the case can be heard in a web radio archive at Gendertalk.
To be honest, I'm astonished that this case is going forward, unless there's a cosmic game of chicken going on, or unless there's some employment contract with a specific "Thou shalt comport thyself as a Manly Man!" clause hiding somewhere. This is the sort of case where a jury will really dislike both sides, but Winn-Dixie ultimately has more to risk. The opinion of most people will run something like, "Well, you know, the guy's a pre-vert, but it's a mild kind of pre-vert, and he's not doing anything illegal. He wants to wear women's clothes on his own time, it's his business. I don't want MY boss telling me what to do on MY time, after all."
In any event, both Oiler and Winn-Dixie seem to me to be badly served by their lawyers at this point.
12/19/2001: vive la france
12/19/2001: princess, redux
12/19/2001: yemen and rumsfeld
12/18/2001: you're NOT in the army now
12/18/2001: interesting donation
12/18/2001: shame on winn dixie, indeed
12/18/2001: saudi princess
12/17/2001: new resolve
12/17/2001: a victim of the attack ... yeah, right
12/17/2001: polluters ho!