Transgender DART employee placed on leave for comments alleging discrimination

Posted on 19 Apr 2010 at 3:54pm

Dallas Area Rapid Transit reportedly placed a transgender bus driver on paid administrative leave Sunday, April 18 in response to written comments she made suggesting that the agency discriminates against employees.

The comments accusing DART of discrimination were made on cards that allow drivers to report maintenance problems with their buses at the end of their shifts, sources said. DART maintained that the driver was defacing agency property by using the cards for another purpose.

DART notified the driver that she was being placed on administrative leave when she arrived for her shift on Sunday, according to reports. The driver met with her supervisor today and agreed to stop using the cards to make comments about alleged discrimination. She will return to work on Tuesday.

Pamela Curry, a trans activist who is a friend of the driver’s, called the comments on the cards “an act of desperation,” because the employee feels she has no other way to speak out about the alleged discrimination.

Last year, the transgender employee asked DART to change her gender from male to female in personnel records. But DART objected and prepared to challenge a family court judge’s order granting the employee a gender-marker change. The judge overturned the order before DART filed its motion challenging it.

The employee also alleges that her supervisors have at various times told her not to wear dresses or long hair at work, and not to use women’s restrooms at the bus yard. The employee, who’s worked for the agency for 25 years, began transitioning in 2003 and had sexual reassignment surgery in 2006.

Outcry about the case from the LGBT community has prompted DART to consider adding trans protections to its employment nondiscrimination policy. A final vote on the proposed policy change is expected in June.

“Even as they work through the process of adding protections, they’re being very cold about it,” Curry said.

Curry has acted as a spokesperson for the employee, who says she’s prohibited from talking to the media.

DART spokesman Morgan Lyons said Monday afternoon he didn’t have any information about the incident but would look into it.

UPDATE: Lyons got back to me this morning but said he can’t comment because it’s a personnel matter and therefore exempt from public records requirements. I informed Lyons that records related to disciplinary action typically aren’t included in this exemption. “We’re talking about a specific employee, and I’m just not going to comment on that,” Lyons responded. Guess we’ll be filing a formal request.

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