Truck driver Peter Oiler was fired by US grocery chain Winn-Dixie on 5 January 2000 after 20 years service, when company officials discovered that he cross-dressed while off duty.
Oiler is now still seeking unspecified damages for lost wages and emotional distress, and according to a court motion filed with US Magistrate Lance Africk yesterday [Wednesday], he does not need a trial in his lawsuit against Winn-Dixie. The company now has until 22 February to reply to the motion.
Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told the Associated Press: “We don’t need a trial, because there’s no disagreement over what happened.
“The only disagreement is whether it’s legal to fire someone for this.”
The ACLU claims that in firing Oiler, who is married and living in Avondale, Winn-Dixie engaged in sex stereotyping in violation of state and federal laws: “The Supreme Court has held that employment discrimination based on sex includes employment discrimination based on stereotypes of how men and women should look, dress and act.”
Winn-Dixie Louisiana has responded by insisting that it “is not liable for punitive damages under any theory of this case, because it did not act with malice or reckless indifference with respect to any federally protected rights of the plaintiff.”