HOUSTON – A former Chickasaw County corrections officer has filed suit against the county, contending she was fired because she is transgender.
In a seven-page civil lawsuit filed Tuesday, Oct. 1, in U. S. District Court in Aberdeen, Elise Hebert, who now lives in Tennessee, seeks back wages and damages for sexual harassment.
Attorney Kristy Bennett of Memphis represents her. Bennett was unavailable for comment Friday.
Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors attorney Gary Carnathan on Friday declined comment on the lawsuit.
No response had been filed as of Friday.
According to a copy of the lawsuit, “Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Chickasaw County, Mississippi (County) discriminated against her by subjecting Ms. Hebert to a hostile work environment because of her gender identity (i.e., sex) and/or because of her failure to conform to Defendant’s sex-based preferences, expectations, or stereotypes.
“Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant discriminated against Ms. Hebert in violation of Title VII and the 14th Amendment when it terminated Ms. Hebert in retaliation for complaining about the harassment and because of gender identity. Ms. Hebert also asserts a claim for a violation of her 1st Amendment right to be free to complain about matters of public concern without reprisal.”
Hebert formerly worked at the Chickasaw County Correctional Facility.
Her lawsuit, which presents one side of a legal issue, contends she was subjected to a hostile work environment after other officers learned of her gender identity.
Her lawsuit indicates she is a transgender woman who was born as a male. The suit indicates she was once known as Elijah Hebert.
Court records indicate she had a background in correctional work when she began working at the facility Sept. 6, 2016 as a part-time correctional officer. She was promoted to full time officer on Oct. 12, 2016.
The suit contends Hebert was taken into an office with male officers, who then asked if she was formerly known as Elijah Hebert. She said that was correct. The experience left her embarrassed and offended, according to the suit.
She asked that her transgender situation be kept secret, but despite her request, inmates and officers spread the word. She said she raised concerns, but to no avail.
She said that about February, 2017, she was not promoted to sergeant as several male correctional officers were.
She contends in the suit she was twice unfairly disciplined and had problems being paid on time. The suit alleges she filed formal complaints about the pay matter, but the problem continued.
The lawsuit contends she was written up July 5, 2017, about missing a day of work and for going outside the chain of command to complain. She was later written up July 12, 2017 for inappropriate behavior. She denied the allegation in both write-ups, and was fired July 28, 2017.
Court records indicate she is seeking a jury trial, back pay, reinstatement or front pay in lieu of reinstatement, compensatory damages, attorney’s fees, and any other relief the court deems proper.