BC Ferries Fights Transsexual’s Claims

Friday, October 07, 2005
Once, he was John Marshall Magnone, a West Coast mariner who worked for the ferry division of a British Columbia government ministry. Then John became Deborah and got a job as a deckhand for BC Ferries. Now she claims her gender switch cost her a job with the province's main ferry company, according to a report on the Globeandmail.com.

Ms. Magnone claims she was fired last year because she is a transsexual. She has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. But BC Ferries says she's an incompetent sailor and its CEO says the company will fight her complaint.

In her complaint, Ms. Magnone says she believes her employers fired her when they learned she is a transsexual. "It is Ms. Magnone's belief that her work was considered acceptable until BC Ferries became aware of her former sexual identity," according to a five-page written summary by the tribunal, which rejected a bid this week by BC Ferries to dismiss the case. That means that unless the two sides can reach a settlement, a public hearing will be held with witnesses for both sides.

BC Ferries Service, according to the Globeandmail.com report, says Ms. Magnone was fired over the quality of her work. It says she posed a danger to the public."[BC Ferries says] that Ms. Magnone's sexual orientation played no role in her dismissal," the summary says. "Rather, they say that her conduct over a series of incidents was such that she did not successfully complete her probationary period."

According to her termination letter, Ms. Magnone also showed up for work late, once causing a ferry to depart late. On another occasion, she was responsible for a ferry's "hard landing" because of faulty steering, it said. Ms. Magnone was on probation during the missteps and her employment was terminated on Sept. 17, 2004, five days before her probationary period ended, the letter says.

The tribunal's summary says that in her complaint, Ms. Magnone alleges that she talked to the ship's captain about the turn in the wrong direction and the hard landing, and he told her the wrong turn was a "mistake that anyone could make." She alleges that her transsexuality prompted her two main superiors to apply an "overly stringent standard of performance to her." She said she underwent a sex-change operation in 1986.

(Source: Globeandmail.com)

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