for Cross-Dressing Off-Duty
ACLU Asks Federal Court To Rule Without Holding a Trial
Transgendered Peter Oiler & Wife Celebrate 25th Anniversary
Compiled by GayToday
American Civil Liberties Union
"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," said Ken Choe, the ACLU Lesbian & Gay Rights staff attorney handling the case.
Peter Oiler was fired on January 5, 2000, after his supervisors and company executives learned that he occasionally cross-dresses as a woman away from work. Oiler and his wife, Shirley, who will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on February 4, lost their health insurance and nearly lost their home.
In October 2000, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit on Oiler's behalf, claiming that Winn-Dixie engaged in sex stereotyping in violation of state and federal laws that bar sex discrimination.
Choe said that over the last few months the ACLU has deposed the men who fired Oiler and has determined that there is no dispute that would require a trial. "They are very clear that he wasn't fired for job performance -- in fact he received numerous raises and promotions," Choe said.
The ACLU cited a sworn deposition from Oiler's supervisor, Gregory Miles, who said Oiler was fired because members of the public who saw Oiler cross-dressed away from work would somehow "put two and two together" and associate him with Winn-Dixie. This, he speculated, could cause people to think Winn-Dixie approved of Oiler's personal life, and might lead people to buy groceries elsewhere.
Winn-Dixie will have until February 22 to reply to yesterday's motion. A hearing is set for April 10 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The case is Peter Oiler v. Winn-Dixie Louisiana, Civil Action No. 00-3114 (Sect. L, Mag. 3).