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Transgender woman’s discrimination lawsuit proceeds

Federal judge denies motion to dismiss

By: Bennett Loudon//May 10, 2023

Transgender woman’s discrimination lawsuit proceeds

Federal judge denies motion to dismiss

By: Bennett Loudon//May 10, 2023

A federal judge has denied a motion to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit filed by a transgender woman.

Plaintiff Vanessa Weiss filed the lawsuit alleging that defendants Premier Technologies and AT&T Corp. discriminated and retaliated against her in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and New York Human Rights Law based on her gender and/or sexual orientation.

Weiss is represented by Megan Sarah Goddard and Anthony Patrick Consiglio, attorneys with Goddard Law PLLC, in New York City. The defendants are represented by Adam P. Mastroleo, an attorney with Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC.

In a decision released Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge David G. Larimer, denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint.

Beginning in July 2019, Weiss, a transgender woman, was employed as a sales representative with Premier, an official retailer for AT&T.

She was initially assigned to Premier’s Batavia store under supervisor Courtney Sturdy for training, with the expectation that both would later move to Premier’s Victor location.

According to court filings, Weiss claims that Sturdy was uncomfortable with her.

“He ignored and avoided Weiss and did not provide her with any training or instruction,” according to court papers.

Weiss claims that, in August 2019, Sturdy held meetings with male co-workers to tell them about new promotions and products, but she was excluded. As a result, her ability to generate sales was compromised, Weiss claims.

Weiss used an inter-office messenger chat tool to lodge a discrimination complaint with Premier human resources associate Mary Weiler.

Weiler abruptly ended the chat, saying, “I don’t know who is monitoring this chat,” according to Larimer’s decision. Weiler called Weiss on her personal phone and told her she would bring the matter to the attention of regional manager Jeff Carpenter.

Three days later, Weiler e-mailed Weiss stating that she had spoken with Carpenter and that everything should be “OK,” according to court papers.

Later in August 2019, when Weiss rode in a car with Sturdy as part of a training excursion, Sturdy commented to Weiss that someone in the store had complained about him and he looked at Weiss angrily, according to a court filing.

In September 2019, Weiss and Sturdy were both moved to the Victor store and AT&T officials praised her performance.

Nonetheless, Weiss contends, Sturdy “continued to treat her with a level of disrespect not shown to any other employees,” Larimer wrote.

Weiss also claimed that Sturdy refused to schedule her to work on busy sales days to sabotage her performance.

On Dec. 10, 2019, Sturdy and Premier vice president Robyn Cortese told Weiss she was being let go. Cortese told Weiss, “Perhaps plaintiff would be better suited to doing hair and makeup as a career,” according to the decision. He even offered to pass on her resume to a friend who worked at a department store.

In September 2020, Weiss filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which issued plaintiff a right to sue letter in February 2021, and Weiss filed the complaint in May 2021.

Lawyers for AT&T filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that plaintiff has failed to state a claim, “because she has not plausibly alleged that AT&T was her employer,” according to the decision.

AT&T claims that Premier was Weiss’s sole employer, and that AT&T never employed Weiss, and cannot be liable for her claims, Larimer wrote.

Attorneys for Weiss noted that AT&T operates Premier’s businesses and stores, with AT&T’s logo and name prominently displayed on Premier’s website, in its social media accounts, and on its store signage.

Premier uses the business name, “AT&T Premier Technologies” on its LinkedIn profile and elsewhere online, and its employee email accounts use the domain “”

Weiss also claims that, when Premier advertises open positions, both the titles and locations reference AT&T alone.

Weiss also claims that Premier’s business operations and employees are directly supervised by AT&T managers.

“I find that plaintiff has managed to aver sufficient employee discipline, supervision, and control by AT&T, to plausibly allege that AT&T was her joint employer,” Larimer wrote.

“Accordingly, AT&T’s motion to dismiss all of plaintiff’s claims against it, made on the sole basis that plaintiff has failed to plausibly allege that AT&T was her employer, is denied,” Larimer wrote.

[email protected] / (585) 232-2035

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