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Illinois transgender woman awarded in employment suit
News update posted Sept. 13, 2011
by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times
2011-09-21

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Joanie Rae Wimmer, photo courtesy Wimmer.


In what could be the first employment discrimination judgment made in favor of a transgender person under the Illinois Human Rights Act, a transgender woman has been awarded $104,711 in a complaint against her former employer.

The Illinois Human Rights Commission adopted the ruling Sept. 12.

Venessa Fitzsimmons alleges that her former Universal Taxi Dispatch, Inc., refused to help her when her taxi broke down because she was transgender.

According to the judgment, Fitzsimmons worked at Universal from 2004-2008. During that time, the judgment says, owner Gordon Simic, called Fitzsimmons a "freak" a "queer" and an "abomination." It goes on to say that he made her pay for repairs to her taxi, despite the fact that other employees were not required to do so.

Attorney Joanie Rae Wimmer, who represented Fitzsimmons further, alleges Simic threatened to fire Fitzsimmons and told her he "was losing customers because she a transsexual."

"This award sends a message to all corporations doing business in the State of Illinois that discrimination based on gender-identity will not be tolerated any longer," Wimmer said in a news statement.

Wimmer, a transsexual person herself, believes the Sept. 12 decision marks the first award in favor of a transgender person issued by the commission. As of 2006, the Illinois Human Rights Act makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.


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