HUNTINGTON – A woman is suing the Public Defender Corporation for the Sixth and 24th Judicial Circuits of West Virginia after she claims she was discriminated against.

Robert E. Wilkinson was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Gina M. Stanley began her employment with the defendants in June 2005 as a staff attorney and was considered a “go-to guy” by other staff attorneys who sought her advice, according to a complaint filed June 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

On Oct. 28, 2007, Stanley informed the defendants that she was transitioning from male to female and the defendants discharged her from employment the day after she informed them of her intention, according to the suit.

Stanley claims the defendants unlawfully discharged her because she did not conform to gender stereotypes and she requested a hearing before the Board of Directors for PDC to appeal her discharge.

The hearing was held Nov. 7, 2007, and the board ordered that Stanley be reinstated, however, she was transferred from Cabell to Wayne, according to the suit.

Stanley claims when she transferred to Wayne, she met with a judge who insisted she dress as a man and continue to practice law under her former name, George Stolze, even though she was in the process of transitioning to female and desired to present as a female.

The judge also sought Stanley’s assurance that if she chose to practice law as a female, she would resign as a public defender and open a private practice, according to the suit.

Stanley claims she took a leave of absence and underwent genital reconstruction surgery in November 2008 and informed the defendant that she intended to return to work in December 2008.

Upon returning to work, Stanley was order not to appear or practice in court until she met with Wilkinson and the previously mentioned judge on Dec. 15, 2008, and when she met with them, she was not allowed to speak at the meeting, according to the suit.

Stanley claims the judge appeared angry and banished her from practicing law in Wayne County for one year. She claims as a female, she was only assigned appeals, post-conviction work and habeas corpus cases, rather than the trial work she had been given when she presented as male.

When the plaintiff began presenting as female, her performance appraisals dramatically changed, according to the suit.

Stanley claims she was unlawfully discharged on July 24, 2012 and filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on March 29, 2013. The EEOC issued a determination finding reasonable cause to believe the defendant violated Title VII when it discharged the plaintiff.

Stanley is seeking compensatory damages. She is being represented by Mark Goldner and Maria W. Hughes of Hughes & Goldner.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:17-cv-03464

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