A U.S. Justice Department lawsuit against the American Samoa Government (ASG) over allegations that the ASG unfairly treated a former employee because she was transgender has been settled.
According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it is illegal to discriminate based on sex or gender identity at one’s workplace.
In a consent decree approved by the court, ASG agreed to pay Simeonica Tuiteleleapaga $125,000 as compensation for the harassment she suffered at the hands of her supervisor during her employment at ASG, a DOJ press release said.
In addition, the consent decree mandates that ASG implement comprehensive policies and procedures to address complaints of sex-based discrimination and provide training to its employees, ensuring that they are well-equipped to handle such matters with sensitivity and adherence to the law.
According to the lawsuit, Tuiteleleapaga’s supervisor, Meki Solomona, the ASG’s Department of Human and Social Services director, consistently harassed Tuiteleleapaga and another transgender colleague despite numerous employee complaints.
Solomona once asked Tuiteleleapaga, in front of other employees, whether she was a “girl or a boy” and told her to “take it off” and “let us see if you are a woman.”
Solomon berated her for nearly an hour after she departed the meeting.
The ASG failed to do anything to intervene.
Tuiteleleapaga’s discrimination claim was referred to the Justice Department for enforcement after the EEOC’s Hawaii District Office investigated and tried to resolve it.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said, “Discrimination against transgender employees is discrimination based on their sex, and no employee should have to tolerate a supervisor’s hostile comments about their gender identity.”
She continued, “Transgender employees must be free from discrimination, harassment or derision in the workplace.”
The case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of proactive measures to prevent and address discrimination in the workplace.