Southern grocery giant Winn-Dixie has conceded that its sole reason for firing an employee of two decades was that off-duty he sometimes cross-dressed as a woman. The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge Wednesday for ruling without a trial in its sex discrimination lawsuit against the company. "We don't need a trial, because there's no disagreement over what happened. The only disagreement is whether it's legal to fire someone for this," said Ken Choe, the ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights staff attorney handling the case.
It will be fascinating to see what happens now. As I said before, I'm astonished that this case has come to trial, since I suspect a jury's overall opinion will be, "Well, they're all very unpleasant people"; however, since most people don't want their off-work behavior to be monitored by their workplace, Winn-Dixie has a hell of a lot more to lose, especially if there's no contract. That said, I'm pretty sure that federal discrimination laws really don't extend this far. Then again, depending on how employment laws are worded, absent a contract specifying off-duty behavior or actual illegality, I'm not sure that it's legal to fire someone for what they do outside the workplace, regardless of whether or not the suit was properly brought. We'll see next month, I guess. (As far as the website itself goes, shameonwinndixie.com seems to have been allowed to lapse, and been picked up by one of those domain-name trollers who grab up lapsed domains.)Posted by iain at January 25, 2002 11:41 AM