Tuesday, June 21, 2011

20/20 Hindsight

I lost my job in February, and I didn't understand why.  I now think that I know, and the knowledge is eating me up inside.

A brief timeline of events:

August 2009 - Written up at work for wearing earrings and nail polish.

April 2010 - Started at BLANK.  Quickly scanned through the employee handbook, found no prohibition against males wearing earrings, and the only reference to nail polish says it must be neat and in neutral colors.

May 2010 - One evening I came into work wearing a pair of small studs.  The front office manager said they were okay.  A couple of weeks later, the Leon County Commission votes to add sexual preference, gender identity and expression to the classes protected by the County's civil rights ordinance.  The ordinance specifically prohibits discrimination in employment and all forms of accommodation (housing, hotels, restaurants, etc).

December 2010 - I was written up for a couple of errors I made.  Around the same time I got my acrylic nails and French manicure.  I had to endure a little good-natured ribbing, but no one complained about my appearance (at least that I know of).

February 2011 - I was fired, allegedly in response to some other error I had made.  I didn't understand what they told me.  I told them that if I had made a mistake, I should be allowed to try to fix it.,  As a consolation, the manager tells me that I've done good work there, and offers to provide me with a reference if I need one.

I talked to my father on Sunday.  I called to wish him a Happy Father's Day.  It was the first time we really talked in almost a year.  He told me that he accepts my crossdressing, but wonders if that somehow influenced the way I was fired.  I told him that was impossible.  I haven't been out anywhere en femme since I came to Tallahassee.  "What about your nails?" he asked.  I didn't think that had been an issue, but it could have been.  The company I used to work with is very sensitive to guest commentary.  What if someone noticed my manicure and said something about it?  If someone chose to make an issue of my appearance, that could have trumped all other considerations, and the anti-discrimination policy be damned.

Sadly, all this feels correct.  I don't know what this means.  I don't think there's any legal recourse.  Florida is an at-will employment state.  Employment can be ended by either the employee or employer at any time with no explanation.  Once again, it's nice to know where one stands.