Judge dismisses Georgia lawsuit by transgender fire chief

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Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a discrimination lawsuit by a transgender fire chief who led a rural Georgia city’s fire department for more than a decade, then got fired 18 months after first coming to work as a woman.

U.S. District Court Judge Tilman E. Self III didn’t rule on the merits of Rachel Mosby’s discrimination claims. Instead, the judge decided Mosby had no legal standing to sue because of a technical flaw with the initial complaint she filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Mosby’s attorney, Kenneth Barton, said in a court filing Feb. 2 that he planned to appeal the judge’s dismissal.

City officials in Byron fired Mosby in June 2019, citing poor job performance. She filed suit last April, saying her termination was instead “based on her sex, gender identity, and notions of sex stereotyping.”

Mosby, who had led Byron’s fire department since 2008, said being fired not only cost her wages and financial benefits, but also tarnished her reputation.

Mayor Michael Chidester and other Byron city officials denied Mosby was fired because of her transition.

The judge dismissed the case without wading into that issue. Instead, he focused on problems with the 2019 complaint Mosby filed with the EEOC — a required step before someone can sue an employer for discrimination.

Tilman found Mosby’s initial complaint to the EEOC on June 28, 2019, failed to include a written sworn statement or notarized affirmation as the agency requires. Though Mosby’s attorney tried to amend the complaint to include the missing document last July, the judge ruled that was too late because the EEOC had already closed Mosby’s case and she had filed suit.

Tilman’s ruling Jan. 28 also threw out Mosby’s claims that Byron officials had denied her due process and defamed her character.

In a landmark decision last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits sex discrimination applies to bias against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.