A Northeastern Pennsylvania woman who wore a prosthetic device to prepare her for a gender change procedure has filed a lawsuit against her former employer in federal court, alleging the company illegally terminated her because of her forthcoming operation.

In her complaint, Clifford, Pa. resident Pauline Davis alleges that Moosic, Pa.-based J&J Snack Foods Corp. unlawfully terminated her when company officials learned of her use of the prosthetic device, which mimics a penis.

The suit was filed Jan. 11 at the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by Penndel, Pa. attorneys Lalena J. Turchi, Timothy M. Kolman, Wayne A. Ely and Eman Abouelseoud of the firm Kolman Ely, P.C.

The complaint states that the firing was retaliatory in nature, and came about after supervisors learned Davis was contemplating a gender change operation.

The suit claims that a male employee previously had taken hormone treatments and wore female prosthetic devices and dressed in female clothing, yet no disciplinary action was taken against him.

“This male employee was treated more favorably in so far as he was not terminated or disciplined in any way for wearing a female prosthetic or female clothing,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that Davis was discriminated against on the basis of her gender.

“Plaintiff was subjected to disparate and discriminatory treatment for being a female, and for being a female who identified with the male gender,” the suit states.

The lawsuit contains counts of gender identity discrimination and retaliation.

Davis seeks to have the defendant permanently enjoined from discriminating against employees on the basis of gender.

She also seeks unspecified compensatory, actual and punitive damages, in addition to lost pay and benefits, litigation costs and other equitable relief.

Davis had already filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in mid March 2010, a complaint that was cross-filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Davis was issued a right-to-sue letter in late 2011.

The federal case number is 3:02-at-06000.

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