Disgruntled worker who is ‘not a female or a male’ sues for $518,682 over PRONOUNS

Font Size:

A person in Oregon named Valeria Jones is suing catering company Bon Appétit Management for $518,682 because coworkers used female names in reference to Jones despite the fact that Jones had continually expressed the desire to be addressed only with gender neutral pronouns.

Some of the terms the coworkers called Jones included, for example, “little lady,” “lady” and “miss,” reports The Oregonian. The coworkers said Jones looked like a woman—possibly some unidentified female celebrity.

Jones was unhappy, explaining that pronouns which apply to everyone do not apply to Jones and are “unwelcome” because Jones is “not a female or a male.”

Before ultimately quitting the job, Jones asked supervisors to present information to every other employee about various gender identity issues. The suit says supervisors chose not to make such a presentation.

“Plaintiff cried regularly at work and at home during this time,” Jones’s $518,682 suit declares.

Jones began working for Bon Appétit in March 2013 and then resigned at some unspecified later date.

When filling out a job application, the prospective employee left the binary boxes about being either male or female blank — apparently intentionally — and staffers at Bon Appétit Management Co. never mentioned it.

The genitalia Jones possesses, if any, is unclear.

Also unclear is which gender pronouns the special and unique litigant sought to be called.

Jones’s lawsuit, filed this week in Multnomah County Circuit Court by Portland attorney Donel Courtney, doesn’t identify the pronoun Jones prefers.

The Oregonian suggests that people in LGBTQ communities sometimes prefer the plural word “they” instead of “he” or “she.”

So, for example: Jones, a catering employee, diced the carrots and then they grated the cheese.

The blog Gender Identity Watch notes that Jones could also prefer the invented pronoun “zie” (pronounced “zee”), a gender-neutral replacement for “he” and “she.”

Bon Appétit Management Co. has been basically silent on the lawsuit, describing it as a personnel matter.

“I can say we are an equal opportunity employer that embraces diversity of all kinds,” vice president Maisie Ganzler told The Oregonian.

The specific breakdown of the damages Jones seeks in the lawsuit is $18,682 in lost wages and benefits and $500,000 for pronoun pain and humiliation.

Bon Appétit Management Company is a large-scale caterer based in Palo Alto, Calif. that provides on-site catering services to colleges and universities as well as corporations and other venues. It operates over 500 cafes in 32 states.

Follow Eric on Twitter and on Facebook, and send education-related story tips to