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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


$900,000 "Toys 'R' Us" Bias Suit

Transsexuals Say Staffers Harassed Them in Dec. 2000

[NEW YORK, NY] - A transsexual fled a Brooklyn courtroom in tears yesterday after recounting how she was menaced in the Barbie aisle by baseball bat-wielding employees of a Toys 'R' Us in Bensonhurst.

"They know what happened in there," Donna McGrath sobbed after a lawyer for the toy store chain finished questioning her about inconsistencies in her testimony.

McGrath, 28, and three other postoperative transsexuals are suing Toys 'R' Us - each seeking $300,000 in damages - charging they were discriminated against based on their sexual orientation on two occasions in December 2000. The jury trial started on Monday.

McGrath, Robert Jinks (aka Tanya Jinks) and Norbert Lopez (aka Tara Lopez) say they were subjected to antigay slurs and threatened with bats by the store employees.

They reported the incidents to store management, who they say failed to take corrective action against the employees.

McGrath, who said she is married to a soda deliveryman, testified yesterday in Brooklyn Federal Court that she was looking to purchase a life-size "Butterfly Barbie" doll when she went to the Bay Parkway store with her friends on Dec. 13, 2000.

'I Am Not a Transvestite'

As she browsed the shelves, McGrath overheard a female employee commenting about the transsexuals who were in another aisle.

The employees allegedly referred to the transsexuals as "faggots," and "transvestites," McGrath said.

"I felt humiliated, I am not a transvestite," she said, adding that she has undergone hormonal therapy and has breast implants.

After reporting the employees' behavior to store manager Bob Moloney, who apologized and gave McGrath a 50% discount on a Barbie Bungalow Beach House, Scooby Doo ball and Scooby Doo sleeping bag she was buying, the transsexuals returned to the store a week later.

McGrath was in the Barbie aisle when two male employees appeared, holding bats.

"One said, 'If one of them passes me, I'm gonna hit them with the bat,'" McGrath said.

"Regardless of my sex, I was being attacked by people that work there. They made me feel like garbage," she said.

Under Gag Order

They made a formal complaint to the management and received a reply one month later on Toys 'R' Us letterhead. The toy chain noted that "the fact an incident occurred on our premises does not automatically make us responsible."

After the transsexuals filed a complaint with the city Human Rights Commission, Toys 'R' Us offered each of them 100 "Geoffrey Dollars," a gift certificate named for the toy store mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe.

They rejected the offer and filed a federal lawsuit.

Toys 'R' Us lawyer Nicholas Goodman and the transsexuals' lawyers Thomas Shanahan and Anthony LoPresti all declined to comment, citing a gag order issued last week by Federal Judge Charles Sifton.

Related Stories:

July 2, 2002 - Toys 'R' Us Discrimination Award Blames the Victims

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