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Verdicts & Settlements

Federal Judge Tosses Discrimination Lawsuit Filed by Transgender Fire Chief in Rural Georgia

— February 19, 2021

Rachel Mosby says she was terminated soon after she began reporting to work as a woman.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a transgender woman who ran a rural Georgia fire department for more than 10 years but was fired shortly after transitioning.

According to The Associated Press, the dismissal does not specifically address the merits of the case.

Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Tilman E. Self III found that the plaintiff, Rachel Mosby, lacked sufficient grounds to file the lawsuit. Self’s determination was based on an apparent technical error in the complaint Mosby initially filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

However, Mosby’s attorney—Kenneth Baton—said he plans to appeal the ruling whenever possible.

Mosby, adds The Associated Press, lost her position with the Byron Fire Department in June 2019. While city officials cited Mosby’s “poor performance” as the reason for her firing, the lawsuit alleges that her termination was “based on her sex, gender identity, and notions of sex stereotyping.”

In her lawsuit, Mosby said her termination led to, or will lead to, a number of negative consequences. Alongside losing future wages and financial benefits, Mosby claims her ejection has also cost her reputation.

LGBTQ flag. Image via Quote Catalog, Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.

The Macon-based Telegraph noted in a July 2020 article that Mosby had lost an earlier case against Byron.

In the refiled suit, Barton asserted that not only was Mosby’s firing unjustified, but that her termination was not made with adequate notice or in accordance with the fire department’s own protocol.

“Now, based upon our review of all of the city’s charter, ordinances, and personnel policies, it has become clear to us that the city failed to properly terminate Chief Mosby,” Barton said in summer. “Whether or not Chief Mosby, as a department head, was entitled to an appeal shouldn’t matter. She should still be considered an employee of the city and entitled to her old job.”

The Telegraph notes that, while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had not taken any action on Mosby’s complaint, the agency did give her a green light to go ahead and file a lawsuit.

But the presiding judge inspected Mosby’s complaint in-depth and said that it did not adhere to EEOC guidelines.

Mosby had not, for instance, provided a sworn statement or notarized affidavit, as the EEOC requires in discrimination cases. And even though Mosby’s attorney had tried to amend the complaint in July to include the missing documents, Judge Self said the request came far too late for consideration.

The court’s ruling, adds The A.P., also dismissed Mosby’s claims that the City of Byron had denied her due process and defamed her in the process.


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