Transgender woman alleges harassment and discrimination by her former employer

A transgender woman is suing a Woodland Hills business that sells Native American crafts, alleging she was forced to resign in 2021 due to ongoing harassment and discrimination from two supervisors that left her feeling “broken and mistreated”.

Emily Mikel, who was previously known as Daniel Wilson, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday against the Native Spirit Lodge. His allegations against the Ventura Boulevard store include wrongful constructive dismissal, discrimination, harassment, whistleblower retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination, harassment or retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

A representative for Native Spirit Lodge did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the 30-year-old plaintiff’s lawsuit.

Mikel was hired in March 2020 as a sales associate, the lawsuit says. Mikel announced to her colleagues in May 2021 that she was a transgender woman, stating, “I have decided to come out as a woman,” according to the suit, which further states that she asked s call Emily from then on.

Some employees supported Mikel, but her direct supervisor “clearly expressed her irritation and disgust” and began treating the plaintiff worse than before, the suit says.

The supervisor rolled her eyes, sighed, or made dismissive comments to or about Mikel, despite knowing that Mikel had a history of major depression and anxiety that required her to be absent from work for care and appointments, the suit says. Mikel was also told by another supervisor to “keep quiet about his mental health issues” to avoid embarrassing others, according to the suit.

Russo’s attitude toward Mikel escalated and made her feel singled out, so she told him that calling him anything other than “Emily” was harassing, the lawsuit says. The boss didn’t give in and kept calling him by his old name of “Daniel,” the suit says.

Mikel was closing the store one night in June 2021 when the supervisor began shouting “Daniel, Daniel,” to which she did not immediately respond, the suit states. When the boss asked her if she would respect him and respond, she asked if he would respect her and call her “Emily,” the suit reads.

The supervisor “bluntly said, ‘No,'” the suit reads.

Mikel complained that the supervisor was mistreating her and setting her up for failure by claiming she was responsible for tasks that were never assigned to her, the suit says. In turn, the supervisor changed the conversation to complain about Mikel’s preferred name and gender identity, criticizing her for asserting her legal rights and complaining about discrimination and harassment, the suit says. .

“I won’t call you Emily unless it’s official and you can show me proof,” the supervisor said, according to the suit.

The other supervisor said to Mikel, “You’re too sensitive. You have to get over it. says the suit.

But Mikel’s anxiety and depression increased, the suit says. Near the end of a shift in July 2021, one of the supervisors told her, “I expect you to act the way I want you to act,” which made it clear to the Complainant that the Supervisors no longer wanted to hear complaints of discrimination and harassment, the lawsuit says.

Mikel, in shock and disbelief that she had been belittled more than she had ever been in her life, quit because she felt unwelcome and knew she could no longer tolerate his terms of employment. work, which left her feeling “broken and abused,” the suit states.