A former Brooklyn, NY Forever 21 employee has filed a lawsuit against the company claiming harassment and discrimination after she began transitioning from male to female.
In the suit, Alexia Daskalakis, 22, claims her superiors mocked her as “disgusting” and “a hot mess,” and quotes one of her managers saying, “You used to be a hard worker when you were a guy, but not anymore.”
She was also fired with no explanation.
“I was devastated. You put all your hard work into working for one company, and they respond by being ruthless,” she told the Daily News. “It hurt.”
Prior to January 2014, Alexia was still going by Anthony and had been promoted to visual merchandiser, but she knew deep down that something needed to change.
“I always played with Barbie dolls, and wore my mom’s high heels and clothes…I wrestled with it,” she said, but “I work hard. I figured my work ethic could trump any discrimination.”
That January she told her bosses about the transition, and “began dressing in a more traditionally feminine manner, such as wearing more form-fitting clothing and applying more traditionally feminine makeup.”
While co-workers and customers offered warm support, her immediate supervisor Patrick Walmsley started lashing out at her, calling her “useless.”
“You’re still a male, so you need to abide by the male dress code,” Patrick allegedly told Alexia.
She tried to reach out to Forever 21’s HR department, but calls went unanswered.
The suit, filed in Brooklyn federal court, seeks unspecified money damages.
“The transgender community faces a variety of challenges,” said Alexia’s lawyer David Gottlieb, “and it is disgraceful for employers to create additional hardship by discriminating against employees simply because of how they express and identify their gender.”
Alexia said, “I just hope I get justice for how I was treated.”