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Transgender Woman Sues Starwood Hotels Over Gender Discrimination in Workplace

Transgender Woman Sues Starwood Hotels Over Gender Discrimination in Workplace

Starwood Hotels faces an employment discrimination suit filed by a transgender woman.

An Orlando transgender woman is suing Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. over alleged employment discrimination. The case, Gina Versace v. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., was filed last summer and is currently pending in Orlando federal court.

Gina Versace was employed by Starwood from March 1998 to March 2013. In her lawsuit, Versace accuses the hotel chain of refusing to recognize her legal status as a woman and discriminating against her based on gender, which created a hostile working environment.

Versace alleges that Starwood failed to keep her gender transition confidential, and that her immediate supervisor told her “you cannot work here” when he became aware of her transition. The suit also says that Versace’s managers, human resource representatives and co-workers repeatedly referred to her with masculine pronouns.

When Versace used a women’s lavatory consistent with her gender, she claims she was improperly discipline and ultimately terminated due to her gender, gender identification and in retaliation to complaints.

“The problem is, the majority of the lower courts have yet to grasp the concept of gender as something that transcends the physical body – especially when dealing with bigotry in the workplace,” Matt Morgan, Versace’s attorney, said during a press event held Friday. “That’s why Gina Versace’s case is so important. She was harassed at work, called a ‘man,’ and ultimately terminated, because she didn’t fit into her employer’s stereotype. That’s illegal.”

“Starwood did not discriminate in any way against this former employee,” a Starwood representative told the Orlando Sentinel. “In fact, the allegations of discrimination were investigated by the Florida Commission on Human Relations in 2013 and the agency found there was no reason to believe that any discrimination had occurred.”

[Photo: Orlando Sentinel]

View Comments (7)


  1. AAJetMan

    July 13, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    “Gender identification” is a self-perception term and can be totally independent of genitalia. It will be interesting to see where this leads us.

  2. Indelaware

    July 13, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    What is wrong with Starwood? Are they begging to loose customers? Let alone damages in court.

  3. MLCJ

    July 13, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    What is wrong with Starwood? Indelaware, did you actually read the entire article, which waited until the end to note the Florida Commission on Human Relations didn’t find any discrimination, or did you form your opinion based on one side of the facts?

  4. David-A

    July 14, 2015 at 5:06 am

    MLCJ – the reference to the Florida Commission on Human Relations findings, is similarly a single sided reference. We do not know the scope or terms of reference, we do not know if they covered all items, and we only have Starwoods interpretation of their findings.
    Finally, findings themselves can be wrong, even by the best of bodies.

  5. MLCJ

    July 14, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    David, did I say I believed either side? No, I just pointed out that someone was jumping off the deep end by immediately blaming Starwood without reading the full article and believing one side. Findings can absolutely be wrong, but so can people who claim to be victims.

  6. Martina70

    July 16, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    How does a person or an organization keep someones gender transformation confidential at the same time as being expected to recognize the person has transitioned, by the use of a new name, pronouns or what bathroom they select?

  7. thebug622

    July 29, 2015 at 9:02 am

    It was such HELL that she stayed on for 15 years.Are we actually being led to believe that she could not have found another maid position in Orlando Florida?The person should be required to use the bathroom related to the equipment that person has in place

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