Employment Clinic Files Suit Against Circle K for Discrimination against Transgender Woman

Transgender Woman Sues Circle K, Citing Slurs, Harassment, Firing after Pride Parade: ‘I was in absolute shock’

Editor's note: The Mandel Legal Aid Clinic's Employment Discrimination Project, along with the ACLU, filed suit against Circle K on August 21, 2019. Professor Randall Schmidt worked with Christine O’Connell, '21, and Max Freedman, '21, on the complaint.


An African American transgender woman is suing a Bolingbrook-based Circle K, alleging harassment and discrimination while working at one of the international convenience store chain’s locations.

Judi Brown, who is trans, filed suit Wednesday against the convenience store where she worked for a little over a year, accusing coworkers of using transphobic slurs, calling her a “man in a dress” and the n-word.

Brown’s manager wasn’t much better, according to the complaint. She allegedly targeted Brown, asking invasive and offensive questions about Brown’s reproductive anatomy, refused to update company documents to “reflect Ms. Brown’s chosen name, and sometimes used male pronouns to refer to her in company documents.”

When Brown reported the treatment, she said Circle K did nothing — a promised promotion was denied and her work was over scrutinized.

After a year of what she described as escalating harassment, Brown was fired the day after the same manager scheduled her for a shift on the Sunday of Chicago’s Pride celebration — higher ups knew she intended to perform during the parade. Brown wasn’t notified that she’d been fired — she found out when she couldn’t clock in for work during her next shift.

Lawyers for Brown say that treatment — and unfair firing — violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Read more at Chicago Sun-Times

LGBTQ rights