A plea was entered on Tuesday in the city’s first-ever gender-identity discrimination case.
Attorneys for Columbus Hospitality LLC, managers of the private downtown Capital Club, appeared in court.
The company faced a charge of unlawful employment practices against 53-year-old Savanna DeLong, who is in the process of becoming a transsexual.
DeLong, who worked as a massage therapist for the club, said that the club discriminated against her by not using her services.
About two years ago, the then Joseph Scott Delong changed his name to Savanna, and let people know he was making the physical transition from a man to a woman.
Savanna said she was let go by the club after she told them about her intentions.
“That's all I was seeking, my day in court, and that the laws are followed,” said DeLong.
As part of the no contest plea, the company admitted the facts in the case but not guilt.
“We’ve done nothing wrong – (the plea) was a business decision,” said Columbus Hospitality Management President, Charles Lagarce.
“I hope this has some impact, and companies realize that we’re a class of people, too, and we should be treated like everyone else,” DeLong said.
“I feel that the Capital Club has taken responsibility, and I think that's good," said Chief Prosecutor Lara Baker-Morrish.
She says the case sends a strong message.
"We're not trying to bring these companies down, we want education, we want there to be learning, we want there to be a process where people come to understand how this affects people's lives, and how companies need to behave in the city,” she said.
The company faces a $5,000 fine when it is sentenced in March. The company says it stands by its diverse workforce and track record.
A similar case against the club’s general manager was continued.
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December 18, 2012: Columbus Hits Business With Lawsuit Over Treatment Of Transsexual