Transgender Cabbie Wins Bias Suit

September 16, 2011 ( – The Illinois Human Rights Commission has ordered a taxi company to pay $105,000 for its alleged discrimination against and firing of a transgender driver, Business Insurance reports. 

According to the article, Venessa Fitzsimmons was hired as a driver for St. Charles, Illinois-based Universal Taxi Dispatch Inc. beginning in March 2004 until February 29, 2008, with a brief break in between. In May 2004, the driver legally changed her name to Venessa and started to dress as a female.

In February 2008, when the starter on her assigned taxi cab did not work, she was told by the company’s president and owner, Gordon Simic, that unlike his practice with similarly situated employees, she would have to pay the $85 in repairs. On February 29, 2008, when her cab would not start again, Simic made inappropriate negative remarks and then terminated her from her position.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights filed a complaint with the HRC stating the taxi company with sexual orientation discrimination related to gender identity. Business Insurance said the commission held a public hearing last December, which was followed by a recommended order and decision in March, and a final notice that was issued this week.

The commission award includes $50,000 as compensation for emotional distress, more than $36,000 in back wages plus prejudgment interest, more than $18,000 in attorneys’ fees, and the $85 repair charge.