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Portland attorney Donel Courtney

An attorney has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who claimed she was damaged because her co-workers referred to her as a woman, even though she “identified” as “gender neutral.”

Portland attorney Donel Courtney says his client, Valeria Jones, identifies as neither female or male. Despite this, co-workers at Bon Appetit Management Co. continued to use their eyes and see her  as a female even though she repeatedly asked them to stop. Specifically, those co-workers repeatedly called Jones “miss,” “lady” and “little lady” despite explanations that Jones “was not a female or a male and that the term was unwelcome.” Workers also directly said Jones looked like a woman (because she is a woman) and made female celebrity comparisons.

The lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, says Jones preferred to be addressed by a general neutral pronoun. The suit doesn’t identify the term, so it is unclear if she uses “zie” or “they.” According to the suit, Jones began working in March 2013. When Jones filled out an application, Jones left blank a question asking about male or female identification. During the next few months, Jones spoke with managers about her personal preference — asking them to address employees as a group and present to employees information about gender identity.

“Plaintiff cried regularly at work and at home during this time,” the suit states.

According to Courtney, Jones’ hurt feelings about this is worth half a million dollars.

Gender-neutral employee sues for $518,000.