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Georgia fire chief files lawsuit; claims she was fired for transitioning to a woman

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A transgender fire chief, who was fired 18 months after she began living as a woman, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the city of Byron, Ga.

For 11 years, Rachel Mosby, served as the city’s fire chief. Last summer, after she started coming to work embracing her genuine gender, she was fired. On June 4, 2019, she received a termination letter, which made no reference to her transition. Instead, it cited poor job performance.

According to the life-long firefighter, however, the reason had nothing to do with how well she did her job.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Macon, Mosby said that her firing was “based on her sex, gender identity, and notions of sex stereotyping.”

She claims that besides costing her wages and retirement benefits, the termination also tarnished her reputation, The Associated Press reported.

Mosby started going to work as a woman in January 2018, more than a year after she began medically transitioning.

Last year, a little over one month before her firing, Mosby shared with local TV station WMAZ her new role as an openly trans woman leading the fire department in a small town in the Bible Belt.

“What I’ve found is that allies and friends have come from some of the most unexpected places,” she said. “Everybody who knows me or has known me for some time says I’ve never seemed happier in my life.”

Her happiness was short-lived. Mosby was fired 18 months after coming out as trans to her department.

“They didn’t want somebody like me in that position, or any position with the city,” Mosby told the AP in September.

A small city of 4,500 located about 93 miles south of Atlanta, Mosby hired Mosby as its fire marshall in 2007. She was promoted to fire chief in January 2008.

On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Chidester denied she had been fired because of her gender identity.

“It has been the contention of the City since claims were filed with the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] that such claims had and have no basis in fact,” Chidester told the AP.

It’s not illegal under Georgia state law to fire someone for being LGBTQ, but that could soon change.

Last year the U.S. Supreme Court heard three consolidated cases pertaining to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and how it applied to LGBTQ workers.

A decision, which would determine if LGBTQ employees can be fired based on their gender identity or sexual orientation under federal law, is expected as early as next week.

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