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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – A post-op transsexual says she was bullied out of her nursing job; and she’s been unable to secure employment elsewhere, because her past employer is holding her back.

She shared her ordeal with WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter who also spoke with her former boss.

“I always, always worked twice as hard; always studied twice as long, because I knew there was going to be the challenge about my gender,” Vanessa Hailey said.

Vanessa Hailey says the challenge on her job as a licensed practical nurse began soon after she underwent a sex change operation.

It was a life-long dream for the 43-year old that was suppose to change her life for better.

With a new man, and a new lease on life everything was looking up; until she returned to work at this nursing home, in New Orleans East.

“It devastated me. It just devastated me,” Hailey said.

The post-op transsexual says she was subjected to a hostile work environment, constantly harassed, and discriminated against.

“And if I don’t have a problem with who I am, and my mother doesn’t have a problem with who I am, and my father doesn’t have a problem with it, and God doesn’t have a problem with who I am, what gives other people the right to pass judgment upon me,” she said.  “Especially when I’m working in a capacity where I’m helping other people.”

Hailey says coworkers had refused to call her by her new name; even though it had been legally changed.

Vanessa felt it was best to seek employment elsewhere, and start with a clean slate.

But she says her former employer has made it difficult by revealing her past.

“You know, you’ve done the damage already and now you’re continuing to do damage to me by not allowing me to move and find another job.”

We’re intentionally omitting the name of the nursing home and its owner.

He denies giving Vanessa a bad reference and went on to say, “He’s confident management (at the facility) handled the situation to the best of their ability, in a fair and impartial manner…. That he’s a non-discriminate employer.”

Vanessa begs to differ.

“I feel like I have been unjustly harassed, ridiculed, judged, made to feel like I was less than; all because I didn’t have a problem with who I was,” she said.

Vanessa is looking into her legal rights. She ultimately wants to secure a new job and put the past behind her.

WGNO has learned state law provides very limited recourse for alleged victims of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lawmakers are working to change that.