A former Wawa employee filed suit against the convenience store mega chain last month, alleging she was wrongfully terminated based on her sexual orientation.
Wendy Thomas, who identifies as a lesbian, alleged in the suit that her immediate supervisor took adverse employment action against her after she was encouraged by a Wawa administrator to report an incident that occurred on National Coming Out Day in 2013.
On that day, Thomas claimed that the supervisor began loudly mocking the LGBT Pride celebration and made several antagonizing comments.
According to the complaint, Thomas discussed the incident two months later at a Gay Straight Alliance meeting and was encouraged by the director of marketing to report the incident. Thomas was also told by the administrator that if she did not file the report, the administrator would.
Thomas reported the incident to the company’s human-resources department but said in the suit that, once the supervisor became aware of the complaint, weekly meetings between the two became “unbearable.”
Shortly after, Thomas received her first-ever poor annual review.
According to the complaint, Thomas had been an exemplary employee at Wawa since 1991. Upon graduating from St. Joseph’s University with her master’s of business administration in 1995, Thomas was promoted to work for Corporate Wawa in training and development.
She was again promoted in 2003.
In 2012, Thomas was actively involved in creating a GSA at Wawa. According to the complaint, shortly after the GSA creation, the supervisor took away Thomas’ flex benefits, which had allowed her to work in multiple Wawa offices.
The removal of the flex benefits forced Thomas to commute an hour and a half each way to work and made attending GSA meetings more difficult.
A Wawa spokesperson said the company does not comment on pending litigation but noted that as a matter of policy, "it is critical to Wawa that every associate who is a part of our company feels valued and comfortable. We have created and continue to grow our Diversity Council as well as a network of company-supported employee resource groups, to ensure that we are recognizing and meeting the current and evolving needs of all of our associates."
A court date has not been set yet.
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