We are suing Circle K – the national convenience store chain – for firing Judi Brown, an African-American transgender woman. Soon after Ms. Brown started working at Circle K’s Bolingbrook store, her manager began asking her invasive and offensive questions, including about Ms. Brown’s reproductive anatomy. Circle K allowed a coworker to harass Ms. Brown with transphobic slurs, calling her a “man in a dress” and a “prostitute.” This same coworker also called Ms. Brown the n-word. Ms. Brown reported the relentless harassment, but Circle K did nothing. Instead, Circle K retaliated against her for complaining.

After a year of escalating harassment, Circle K fired Ms. Brown after scheduling her for a last-minute shift the Sunday of Chicago’s Pride celebration. Ms. Brown typically worked only Monday through Friday and Circle K knew that she intended to perform in the Pride Parade that Sunday. Ms. Brown followed procedure to call off the Sunday shift and was stunned to find that she had been fired the next day.

Ms. Brown’s firing violates federal law, as well as the Illinois Human Rights Act.


John Knight, Karen Sheley, Carolyn Wald (ACLU of Illinois), Randall Schmidt (University of Chicago Law School)

Date filed

August 21, 2019


Northern District of Illinois