A former New Jersey bank teller is suing her former bosses at Wells Fargo for allegedly discriminating against her based on her gender identity and race.
Alexis Edwards, a Black transgender woman who worked at a bank branch in Newark, claims her superiors “blackballed” her due to her gender identity and perceived sexual orientation, thereby limiting her opportunities for career advancement.
She also claims that those same superiors laughed when customers mocked her for her transgender identity. According to a lawsuit filed in federal court, customers said Edwards would “never be a real woman because she could never have kids.”
Edwards, who transitioned in 2018, two years after being hired by the bank branch, claims in court documents that managers did nothing to stop her from being “abused and bullied” by customers who took issue with her gender identity.
“It hurt Ms. Edwards so much because managers would play silent all the time and she caught the same managers laughing at the customers’ hurtful statements,” reads the complaint filed by Edwards’ attorney.
Edwards further claims she was denied a promotion despite having received individualized positive performance reviews, according to the New York Post. She says her superiors — Wells Fargo branch manager Tiffany Davis and service manager Shaquanna Sheria — subjected her to “harsh treatment” by denigrating her in front of staff.
In court documents, Edwards specifically singled out Davis for allegedly “spreading rumors” about Edwards’ sexual orientation, and for reprimanding Edwards over her style of dress.
Davis allegedly claimed that a customer complained “about you giving high attitude and being extra flamboyant with your nails.”
She further alleges that a colleague at the branch told her that Emily Stewart, another senior-level executive at the Newark branch, “informed [the colleague] that she doesn’t like gay people,” according to the complaint.
The hostile work environment caused Edwards’s stress levels to rocket, and forced her to consult a doctor “to address heightened sugar levels caused by the nasty treatment … by her managers,” the lawsuit claims.
Her stress level, stemming from her mistreatment at work, was so high that it allegedly caused her sugar level to spike to “600 plus or near coma level,” reaching the point at which her “diabetes made her body shut down and contributed to her vision problems and created other detrimental issues regarding her health,” the lawsuit continues.
The hostile work environment became “so intolerable” that Edwards informed her superiors of her intention to voluntarily resign as of March 18, 2022. But after learning of her intent, she claims Wells Fargo “terminated her employment” two weeks early, on March 2, 2022.
Edwards also alleges she was discriminated based on race, claiming that branch managers promoted Hispanic employees at the expense of African Americans and other ethnic groups.
A Wells Fargo spokesperson told the Post, “While we decline to comment on this lawsuit specifically, Wells Fargo has a clear policy that prohibits employee harassment of any kind.”
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