A Valley woman is suing the company that allegedly fired her after she refused to use a colleague’s preferred pronouns.
iWired Inc. said Nicole Lossmann was terminated for being rude to contractors. But Lossmann contended she was fired for her refusal to use the preferred pronouns of a transgender co-worker. She referred to Charles by his name, but would not use he/his pronouns, citing religious reasons.
Lossmann, a Seventh-day Adventist, filed a lawsuit against the company on Dec. 18 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. She alleged that iWired, a home automation company in Scottsdale, violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by terminating and harassing her over her religious beliefs, denying her religious accommodation and creating a hostile work environment.
The company hired Lossmann on May 31, 2022 for construction and project management. By June 17, 2002 she was fired.
Lossman, 51, claimed in the lawsuit that the human resources director and company president both criticized her at a public meeting and subsequent private discussions for refusing to use her coworker’s preferred pronouns. She said that she explained “her religious observance of the tenets of the Seventh-day Adventist religion regarding gender identity, and that she could simply call coworkers by name instead of using gender-specific pronouns,” according to the lawsuit.
"When I spoke to the owner, I told him about my Christian faith, and that I can't call a girl a boy, and a boy a girl, but will call anyone by their name," Lossmann wrote in a complaint she filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on July 20, 2022. The complaint is a precursor to a federal discrimination lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleged that the company “failed and refused to make any good faith effort to resolve the conflict” and didn’t accommodate Lossman's religious beliefs.
Lossmann claimed to believe “what the Scripture says in Genesis: that God created humanity in His own image, male and female,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also said that Lossmann’s belief “may be less nuanced” than her church’s public stance on gender identity.
"I believe I was fired on account of my religion, and sexual orientation, and subjected to a hostile work environment based on my beliefs about not using male pronouns for a female," Lossmann wrote in her EEOC complaint.
Lossmann's lawsuit asks for damages for lost wages and emotional distress. She also is seeking punitive damages and attorneys’ fees, a return to her job and court-ordered training for the company.
Neither Lossmann’s attorney nor iWired executives could be reached to comment on the lawsuit.