On October 29, 2018, a San Francisco federal jury unanimously found that a Silicon Valley tech company did not commit unlawful retaliation by firing a transgender employee who accused the company of discrimination in a two-star Glassdoor review.
Adrian Scott Duane, a transgender man, alleged on the job review website that IXL Learning, Inc., an educational technology provider, gave unequal treatment to employees on the basis of race, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Duane wrote the review after he developed complications following gender confirmation surgery while on short-term disability leave. IXL was allegedly resistant to Duane’s request for a four-week 50% remote work arrangement as a reasonable accommodation during his recovery. While IXL ultimately agreed to a half-time remote work plan with detailed requirements, Duane published the review because he was incensed after learning that straight, cisgender, and able-bodied coworkers had been allowed to work remotely between 50% and 100% of the time without similar requirements.
Duane’s case seemed promising from an employee’s standpoint. Still, after a one-week federal jury trial, the eight-person jury found that Duane’s termination did not violate the anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
While Duane’s case is factually interesting, it does not mean that employers can declare victory in the Glassdoor Wars. Nor does this case imply that transgender persons (with or without disabilities) can no longer succeed against employers on claims of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. To learn more about unlawful discrimination and retaliation, please contact your Ally Law lawyer.