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April 25, 2004

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HRC Lauds Vermont Attorney General for Protecting Transgender Employees from Discrimination

'Every employee deserves to be judged only by the job they do,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. 'We commend GLAD for its work in securing this victory.'

WASHINGTON - The town of Hardwick, Vt., settled a discrimination claim April 22 after the state attorney general ruled that state law bars discrimination against transgender people in employment, accommodations, housing and other areas. In November 2003, the attorney general found probable cause that Hardwick illegally fired a police officer, Anthony Barreto-Neto, because he is transgender.

"Every employee deserves to be judged only by the job they do," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "We commend GLAD for its work in securing this victory."

The Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and Beth Robinson of Langrock, Sperry & Wool represented Barreto-Neto in the case.

"The attorney general clearly found that transgender persons are protected under Vermont's prohibitions against sex or sexual orientation discrimination," said GLAD's Jennifer Levi, an expert on transgender legal issues. "This is a groundbreaking decision for transgender people who have historically been excluded from many civil rights protections and continue to experience pervasive discrimination."

The Hardwick Municipal Police Department hired Barreto-Neto in April 2002. After officials found a website describing him as a "transsexual," town officials presumed his inability to do the job. After being subjected to a continuous pattern of harassment and inferior work conditions so severe, Barreto-Neto was forced to leave his job. In its ruling, the attorney general's office credited testimony of former Police Chief Gregory Rambo, saying that he was directed to make Barreto-Neto so uncomfortable that he would have to leave the force.

Hardwick awarded Barreto-Neto $90,000 and also adopted a formal non-discrimination policy covering transgender employees and pledged to train its employees on transgender issues.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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