Honeywell discriminates against transgender employees!
My name is Scarlet Tatro and I'm a neurodiverse, transgender, queer, woman, who worked for Honeywell at the FDA campus in White Oak Maryland. I was a temp for them, but all of my interactions were with Honeywell employees.
This is my detailed story of the discrimination that I faced at the hands of many Honeywell employees from the bottom to the top of leadership including:
●Being outed as transgender at work.
●Having my dead name (the names many trans people abandon when they come out/accept themselves/whatever, sometimes referred to as our birth names) passed around the job site I was working at.
●Having my abuse reported to HR and never once being contacted by them until I personally contacted them.
●Was victim blamed by my direct supervisor AND the Senior HR Lead for Honeywell (who asked me if transphobia is even a word).
●Was put on hold for six months while an “investigation” was being done, thereby creating such a high level of stress and anxiety and justified fear, that I was unable to return to work.
●Had to spend precious energy, that I didn’t have due to the trauma I had suffered, to educate ignorant HR workers about trans discrimination
●And was offered zero recompense even after the HR Leader of Honeywell Building Systems America admitted that the situation was handled completely wrong from the beginning.
I am going to withdraw the names of the individual employees whom I was wronged by, but I will not remove the name of the company that allowed it all to happen.
I am writing this because since I came out of the closet as a queer trans woman, I have suffered innumerable wrongs and traumas that no human being should have to deal with, yet are the norm for my community. For this, I will no longer sit by quietly. I thought perhaps I could affect positive change without making a big deal publicly about this. However, Honeywell Building Systems has shown at every step of the way that they are not committed to creating safe working environments for transgender people. They are not willing to handle unsafe work environments in a timely manner. Nor are they willing to accept responsibility for my continued trauma for the last 9-10 months of my life and foreseeable future.
This is the story of my Discrimination in only one aspect of my life over the past year.
I have been a construction worker (Electrician/HVAC Tech/Building Automation tech) for the last twelve years of my life. During that time, I never had trouble finding, or holding a job for extended periods, and I made damn good money due to the level of expertise that I accrued throughout those years.
When I came out of the closet as a queer, transgender, woman, all of that magically changed overnight. I was fired from the job that I had worked for a combined total of five or six years for having a “dirty work truck” shortly after I came out of the closet. I had EEOC paperwork and a lawyer all set to help with that situation, but in the end decided that I didn’t have the strength at the time to deal with it, having just literally moved into a friend’s closet in one of the rooms in their house.
It was well over a year before I found another job. I got so many calls that ended abruptly as soon as the people calling heard my voice compared to the “female” (Names don’t have gender, but obviously most of our society doesn’t think that way) name on the resume.
My first job, that long year after coming out, was as a temp through an agency that I had minimal to no contact with, for Honeywell Building Systems for the FDA at White Oak. I was so excited when I got the job. I thought maybe, just maybe, a big company like Honeywell would be different. Like maybe the scores on the HRC’s equality index might actually hold true for trans people. Like I might not have to feel the fear I had felt for the two years I was transitioning in the construction trade before I came out. Listening to people say the most hateful and vile things about LGBTQIA people, People of color, and many other marginalized groups. Like maybe this would be an actual professional construction environment.
I was wrong.
The Outing And Deadnaming.
I started working at Honeywell at the end of July in 2014. At the time, I had not yet had my driver’s license switched over to the proper name and gender marker. An ID was required to gain access to the buildings I was working in due to the sensitive nature of the work being done. So everyday, sometimes multiple times a day if I left the secure area, I had to show both my ID and my name change decree from the court. I was misgendered pretty regularly but unfortunately, I was kind of used to that as a visibly trans woman. I felt a little tense around a lot (not all) of the people I worked with, but I thought maybe that was just because I was a new face or a woman in a male dominated industry. I chose to believe that because I didn’t want to believe that at a company so big and well respected, I would still have to fear discrimination.
Then I had to miss some work for unrelated medical issues from around December 2014 to January 2015. When I returned on January 27th, I was informed by a fellow co-worker that while I was away, someone had found out not only that I am transgender but also my dead name and passed both those pieces of private and protected information around to (at least) many, if not all, lower level honeywell employees. IE My coworkers.
At the time I was working 60 hours a week faithfully and was an excellent employee, making extremely beneficial modifications, above my paygrade at the time and above the scope of work I was asked to do, to the monitoring system that we had in place for sensitive areas of the facility. From about September 2014 to until the end of July 2015 I was sitting at a desk for 12 hours a day monitoring that system, with little interaction with other coworkers.
When I was informed by my co-worker, I tried to just let it slide, but I couldn't. After a few days or maybe even weeks, I informed my direct supervisor of the situation. Either that same day, or very shortly thereafter, he talked to me in private and told me that he had contacted Honeywell HR and that they were going to send someone to do sensitivity training around trans employees. That sounded okay to me at the time. I was never contacted directly by anyone from HR at any level of the company from this point on until I personally took it upon myself to file a complaint on top of the other egregious outing and deadnaming I had experienced later on.
Sitting at the computer for twelve hours a day was a temporary assignment until new employees could be hired to do that job. As those positions began to be filled and I was told I'd be going back into the buildings to do what I was originally hired to do, I began to feel very anxious about going back to being in that environment. I missed work and ended up having to go to the doctor where I was almost involuntarily hospitalized for my depression and anxiety regarding this issue. I was diagnosed, for the first time in my life with chronic depression and anxiety. I informed my direct supervisor of this and asked to set up a meeting so that I may discuss the time that I had missed and explain the way that the previous abuse was affecting me.
The day of the meeting was Wednesday 5/27/15. When I arrived, I was taken by my direct supervisor and his direct supervisor into my boss' direct supervisor's office. As I began to explain the situation and the anxiety and depression I was feeling about going back into the buildings to be around the other employees, my boss was literally googling me. He pulled up an old twitter account which said I am a ****CLOSETED**** trans woman and said; "well look how easy it is to find you." He did not pay attention to what I was saying at all past looking that information up to blame me for my own victimization.
This is something that women have to deal with all the time and even more so with trans women as we sit at an intersection of two different oppressions. Transphobia and misogyny. Trans women of color have to face even more of this because they sit at an intersection of three different oppressions. Transphobia, misogyny, and racism. Please remember this as you continue to read. I am a privileged trans woman because of my whiteness and I still have had to go through more discrimination than any person should suffer. It’s important to make note of this because I know my trans sisters of color deal with so much worse and none of us deserve the way society treats us at seemingly every social interaction. Never blame a victim of any injustice for that injustice being done to them. Injustice is by definition, not deserved.
His direct supervisor is a person of color and said something along the lines of; "Well look who is sitting across the desk from you, so you know I can't be transphobic." Thereby relieving himself of any and all responsibility and anyone else on the jobsite who happens to be a person of color.
This is obviously ridiculous because we are all subject to the messages of hate that our society constantly throws upon us with regards to marginalized and oppressed groups. There are trans women who are transphobic both internally and externally as well as homosexuals that are homophobic ect. Therefore it is silly to think that because we sit at one or several intersections of oppression, that we are unable to oppress others along other axes of oppression in which we are privileged.
I was also told in the meeting that contrary to what I had been originally told about sensitivity training, they had reassigned the computer training on the Honeywell codes of conduct, thereby leading me to believe that HR had never actually been contacted in the first place. (They were. More on that later)
For an incident like this to happen in a FEDERAL workplace, by a company as big as honeywell, it is abhorrent to think that trans centered sensitivity training is not necessary. Given the reaction by all honeywell employees in positions of power, though, it rings perfectly clear that there is no accountability to comply with government standards.
As I sat in shock, I felt so uncomfortable that I just wanted to leave and never think about that meeting again. Unfortunately there have been few days since then that I did not. When they asked me if I still wanted to work there, I said yes and they said that I would have to finish my security clearance by the end of July to remain employed. I came in to work on the next day and got the information of the person from GSA (the go between from Honeywell and the FDA) who needed to re-start the process of security clearance paperwork due to the whole system changing and my previous fingerprints, paperwork, etc., being null and void. I called him and left a detailed message and have yet, to this day, to receive a call back.
I worked that Friday and the following Monday and on that Monday when I came into the security area and was misgendered TWICE by the same guard, I began to wonder just how many people had been told about me being trans. That coupled with my further processing of the meeting with my supervisors, was all I could take. Since that Monday, the 1st of June, I have not been back to work. The more I thought about all I had endured, the more anxious, depressed, and upset I became.
I wrote to corporate HR on Wednesday June, 9th. I received no reply for eight days and on the 9th day, decided to send another email inquiring to the reason I had not received a reply yet. I sent this to the exact same email I had sent the original complaint to. This day however, I received a reply stating that they had never gotten the original complaint. I resent it and was told an investigation would be started and emailed back and forth with the corporate Senior HR director several times that ended in her asking for my phone number so she could call me. I replied that I would prefer not to send my number and that I would prefer any interactions be in text. She replied that it would be easier for her (because her comfort as an HR representative is more important apparently than that of an employee who has been discriminated against and has dysphoria around her voice) to talk on the phone and that she would be happy to corroborate any parts of our phone conversation in later emails. I didn't feel comfortable with that answer given that I had already experienced two Honeywell Supervisors who had belittled my situation and blamed me for my own victimization. I did not respond as I was trying to get legal advice from a local LGBt law firm. I later found out that the group had a lot of turnover and that many of the people in power positions there were from Gay Inc. and as such, I probably wouldn’t get much help. That is another story in and of itself .
I checked my email and discovered that I had been emailed again by corporate HR about me sending them my telephone number. I responded that I did not feel comfortable having any conversations over the phone and that I was waiting for advice from someone more knowledgeable than myself on these matters and that I would get back to her once I had that information.
That same day, I started to go back to therapy and was told by my therapist that my current mental state has raised enough of a concern in her that she felt very strongly that I should go to therapeutic day treatment at a mental hospital. My anxiety and depression have NEVER been this bad in my entire life. If my therapist was not also a trans woman, I would likely have been involuntarily hospitalized right then and there; but she understands the ways that involuntary hospitalization can severely negatively impact a trans woman given the current standards of care and housing. Again, another story for another day.
After numerous back and forths with the Sr. HR leader at Honeywell, I decided to take the phone call and get consent to record said phone call. This consent was denied. What proceeded was a 2 hour phone conversation where I was repeatedly attacked and blamed for my own victimization. I was ad nauseam asked why, if my information about being trans is online, why it was an issue that someone found said information, as well as my deadname, and passed it around work. I replied that my trans status is online for other trans people to not feel alone and as a source of pride and that I did not consent to my information being used alone or in connection with my deadname to belittle, humiliate, or discriminate against me or any other trans person.
She spent very little time going over the actual wrongs that had happened especially with regards to the two supervisors and that meeting. She also hounded me on why I felt the workplace was unsafe to return to, asking me over and over again feeling like she I was being questioned as if I had done something wrong. The point was belabored so much that I asked her if she would feel safe if she was sexually harassed, having reported it to her supervisors, and then been told; "Well *redacted*, you *were* wearing a skimpy dress that day and your cleavage was hanging out, so you really were asking for it." She stuttered for several seconds before clearly lying and saying that she would not have a problem with feeling like the workplace was unsafe.
She spent a lot of time questioning me about the one decent person in that situation, who initially told me of the all the talking about me. She questioned repeatedly if I would have ever known about it if he hadn't told me. I repeatedly told her that he was not the issue in all this and that he did the right thing by telling me, because that information being passed around literally puts my life in danger due to the astronomically high rates of trans murder. I reminded her that he had done nothing wrong and was not the source of contention in any of this. Again I felt like I was being accused of doing something wrong and colluding with the person who told me about the issues.
She also told me that my direct supervisor did initially contact her when I told him about the situation but that she thought I would not want to talk about it and therefore never reached out to me to see how I would want it handled. This was a shock to me that this situation would have been handled this terribly by a Sr. HR leader of a major corporation.
At one point during the conversation, she literally asked me if transphobia is even a word, to which I paused for several seconds and said; "yes, and it's extremely alarming to me that you would not know that."
The fact that not even the head of HR of a company like this knows that transphobia is a word, should be alarming as hell to all trans people who feel like their HR departments will fight for them if anything happens. Human Resources are supposed to be the social justice warriors of the corporate paradigm (of course they’re really just there to try to mitigate any blowback that their company is guilty of), or at least be knowledgeable about different marginalizations to be able to deal with discrimination around them in the companies they are tasked with overseeing.
For the second time since I found out about being outed, I was in shock after talking with people in human management positions in Honeywell.
The conversation ended with her telling me that she would finish her investigation and would get back to me within a week and a half. As of July 31st, I had still not heard back from her other than to continually push back the date that she would be contacting me.
I received an email from the temp company from whom I was contracted out to honeywell. In it, I was asked if I would like them to to try to renew my contract with honeywell.
I responded that I was at present unsure, having not heard back yet from honeywell, about how I would want to move forward and that for the time being, I still felt it an unsafe work environment.
Whether on accident or on purpose, that response was forwarded to the SR lead of corporate HR with me still being able to see their interactions. They forwarded my email to her and she replied; (direct quote from email) "Thanks *redacted*. Not sure how or if you should respond."
I decided to write back to the temp company and ask them to move forward with trying to renew the contract with honeywell. The temp company replied that Honeywell would likely decline due to the time missed, even though that time missed was communicated to be a direct result of the workplace discrimination, of which I am the victim, and unacceptably slow resolution of a very serious matter. I have all of this in email correspondence saved by the way.
Later that day, the temp company responded that Honeywell had indeed declined to renew the contract, but was very adamant about the fact that this would not affect the outcome of the "investigation."
The SR lead of corporate HR wrote me an email saying that it would be yet another week before I had any resolution. Saying I will hear something back by August 7th this time.
The SR lead of corporate HR wrote me yet again to tell me that no findings were ready and left any date for resolution open ended.
Another email from the SR lead of corporate HR, telling me no resolution would be met that week.
Emailed by the SR lead of corporate HR to say that she needed to speak with me again. I replied that I was on my way out of town and wouldn't be available until after the following Tuesday.
Sometime between this day and October 12th, I spoke on the phone again with the SR lead of corporate HR again. She was defensive and denied, rather tellingly as to the fact that she knew she was lying, that she had ever asked if transphobia was a word. She absolutely did ask and it makes me feel disgusted every time I think about that this was the woman tasked with “investigating” my discrimination.
The SR lead of corporate HR emailed me again to ask to talk. I was busy and informed her I could do it the next day.
The SR lead of corporate HR finally emailed me back saying that she had gotten the information she needed.
I wrote upset with the SR lead of corporate HR about the fact that no resolution had been made in an exorbitant amount of time and that I was planning to file paperwork with the eeoc.
The HR leader for HBS (Honeywell Building Systems) Americas (the previous person’s boss), wrote me an email saying she was taking over the case and that she would contact me by the following friday with the results of the "investigation."
The HR leader for HBS Americas wrote me to see if I would be available to talk the following Monday, November 16th.
I spoke on the phone with her and she admitted that the entire thing was handled "poorly" and that "appropriate action and training" would be taken by honeywell.
I was told that I would not get any back pay for the time that I had been waiting for any kind of resolution. As a neurodiverse trans woman with extremely high anxiety, I've been waiting for this since June 9th when I initially reached out. In actuality, this issue has been going on, and handled with a terrible lack of care or class all around, since I first reported the situation to my direct supervisor in late January 2015/Early February 2015.
This is entirely unacceptable and there is no accountability whatsoever for the pain, trauma, victim blaming, misgenderings, being outed, having my dead name passed around, and time that I have had to wait for any kind of resolution. Especially one that doesn't address me personally at all as a human being and VICTIM in this situation of several high level representatives of this company.
I am reaching out to you, the public, as well as the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, pleading for your help with this. I now have no option to go back to this place and fear I will be unable to return to my profession of over a decade due to the horrible way all of this has been handled by one of the biggest companies, with one of the best ratings for LGBT workplaces, in my field. I have been bullied by corporate HR and treated inhumanely throughout this whole ordeal, at every level of management by honeywell employees. The Sr. HR leader has proven so unknowledgeable about trans issues that she doesn't even know if transphobia is a word, and THIS is the person who held, and dangled, my fate in her hands for SIX MONTHS.
For reference, I am including a link to The United States Office of Personnel Management and direct quotes from their website. This is relevant because the FDA is a federal organization. Honeywell is a federally contracted corporation with hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding. This should not be allowed to stand with the situation as it currently sits.
Confidentiality and Privacy: An employee's transition should be treated with as much sensitivity and confidentiality as any other employee's significant life experiences, such as hospitalization or family difficulties. Employees in transition often want as little publicity about their transition as possible. They may be concerned about safety and employment issues if other people or employers become aware that he or she has transitioned. Moreover, medical information received about individual employees is protected under the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a).
Names and Pronouns: Managers, supervisors, and coworkers should use the name and pronouns appropriate to the gender the employee is now presenting at work. Further, managers, supervisors, and coworkers should take care to use the correct name and pronouns in employee records and in communications with others regarding the employee. Continued intentional misuse of the employee's new name and pronouns, and reference to the employee's former gender by managers, supervisors, or coworkers is contrary to the goal of treating transitioning employees with dignity and respect, and creates an unwelcoming work environment. Such misuse may also breach the employee's privacy.
Everything that happened after the original incident was harassment of a transgender employee, by all levels of management, who was simply trying to seek justice for discrimination on the jobsite, which is of course it’s own form of discrimination.
What happened to me can happen to any transgender person in a world that refuses to acknowledge our existence in schools as children are being taught about society. People don’t just go and look this stuff up on the weekends during the football game or whatever else they sit at home doing on their off time. Some people however, should absolutely know better and Honeywell as a corporation (since corporations are people right?) should know better as a highly ranked LGbt company. Their human resource, no, ALL human recourse people should know at least basic 101 trans information so that they may be a resource to all their employees. When I was asked what I wanted, I asked for money, and you know what, I still want it, because money is what these companies understand.
HOWEVER, I also asked that honeywell hire people of ALL different marginalizations, and pay them well, to teach all their management and human resource employees about the intersections of oppression they inhabit, so that companies may provide EQUAL protections, which they are required by law to do if they are government contractors or agencies, any damn ways. I still want that too.
Not some shadowed promise of "appropriate action and training" because clearly, honeywell doesn't understand what appropriate action and training are when a trans person is discriminated against at every level of the corporation.
As it stands, this is unacceptable. No person should be treated like this or be kicked out of their career because it is both physically and mentally unsafe for them to work in just because of what’s in their pants.