Trans debt collector sues former employer for bias

May 14, 2024 3:51 pm
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A transgender debt collector in Pennsylvania has filed a suit against her former employer, claiming pervasive workplace harassment and bias forced her to resign from her job.

On April 25, “Jane Doe” filed a 27-page federal lawsuit against Ability Recovery Services LLC, claiming violations of state and federal civil-rights laws. Ability Recovery Services is based in Dupont, Pa., a borough located in Luzerne County in the northeastern region of the state.

Doe worked at Ability Recovery Services as a debt collector from August 2023 until April 2024, when she resigned due to alleged mistreatment. Her job duties consisted of calling customers for the purpose of collecting debts. She did a “commendable” job for her employer by collecting many debts, according to the lawsuit.

However, Doe’s co-workers allegedly harassed and mistreated her, from the beginning of her employment until she resigned. Shortly after Doe was hired, a co-worker asked Doe how much gender-affirmation surgery she planned to undergo. “What are you going to get done,” the co-worker allegedly asked.

Another co-worker stated in Doe’s presence, “I think some people here are using the wrong bathroom,” and other co-workers laughed at the remark.

Multiple co-workers intentionally misgendered Doe by calling her “sir” or using incorrect pronouns. They also made inappropriate comments about her appearance, according to the lawsuit.

A debt collector, identified only as “Jennifer,” confided in Doe that she cannot accept her child “because he wears women’s clothes,” according to the lawsuit.

In late 2023, a supervisor referred to a client as “a man pretending to be a woman,” within earshot of Doe. Doe reported the inappropriate comment to another supervisor, who allegedly told Doe: “You have to have thick skin. Maybe you don’t belong working here.”

April 2024 was a particularly challenging month for Doe. A co-worker told Doe: “I can’t stand you.” Another co-worker directly informed Doe that she’s a “man” and that she emanated a foul odor. The co-worker also said, “I’m going by what’s in the Bible. I don’t have to be nice to anybody. If I want to say stuff to you, I will,” according to the lawsuit.

On April 11, 2024, a co-worker told Doe: “I can’t stand you.” Later that day, Doe terminated her employment with Ability Recovery Services.

On April 22, 2024, Doe was given a right-to-sue letter from the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on April 22, 2024. Doe is seeking more than $150,000 in damages along with a court order requiring Ability Recovery Services to conduct trans-inclusive sensitivity training for its employees.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Karoline Mehalchick of the Middle District of Pennsylvania. A jury trial has been requested.

Patricia A. Cobb, chief operations officer for Ability Recovery Services, issued this statement: “Ability Recovery Services LLC denies all allegations set forth in the mentioned lawsuit. Our company has a diverse and inclusive workforce.  I cannot comment further on any open litigation.”

Attorneys for Doe had no comment for this story.

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