A former digital marketing manager at Imax has filed a discrimination suit in L.A. Superior Court alleging she was fired because she was too assertive and not “bubbly” enough.
Cyana Casini contends that her boss, Sipra Thakur, who is also a woman, sidelined her because she did not conform to gender stereotypes.
“Plaintiff began to suspect that Thakur minimized her and treated her differently because she is a woman who is assertive, aggressive, business-like, and knowledgeable in the digital space,” the suit contends. “There are other women who worked in Plaintiff’s department who do not display these attributes, and thus appear gender conforming.”
The suit alleges that two other women in the department — who were described as “bubbly” — were afforded better treatment. Casini alleges that she was reprimanded after emailing a female colleague to raise concerns about errors in a report. She says Thakur forced her to apologize “like a child” for hurting the woman’s feelings.
The lawsuit states that Thakur excluded Casini from movie screenings while inviting women who were more gender conforming. She says she was also excluded from meetings and subjected to unwarranted skepticism over her use of paid time off.
As the relationship with her supervisor broke down, Casini took her concerns to HR. She was fired less than two weeks later, the lawsuit states.
In Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins (1989), the Supreme Court held that it is impermissible to discriminate based on gendered stereotypes. In that case, a woman was denied partner after male colleagues described her as “overly aggressive,” “unduly harsh,” and “macho,” and suggested that she take “a course in charm school.”
“We are beyond the day when an employer could evaluate employees by assuming or insisting that they matched the stereotype associated with their group,” the court held. More recently, courts have relied on that precedent in allowing discrimination claims brought by transgender employees.
An Imax spokesperson declined to comment on pending litigation.