Ruling: Transgender Man’s Discrimination Case Will Proceed in Colorado

By Shane Stahl • September 6, 2018 • 11:09 am

A transgender man who received a job offer only to see it rescinded after he disclosed his gender identity to his prospective employer will see his case move to trial after a federal judge denied the employer’s motion to dismiss yesterday, September 5.

After a successful interview, Egan Joseph Woodward was offered a job at A&E Tire Company in Denver, CO, subject to a background check. After he completed the background check paperwork, the company manager who had interviewed him and offered him the job called him to verify aspects of the information. On his disclosure form, Woodward disclosed that he is a transgender man — born female, but now living as the man he’d always known himself to be. Upon confirming this, the manager said, “that’s all I need,” abruptly hung up the phone, and subsequently hired someone else for the position.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit against the tire company, alleging that Woodward had been discriminated against under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. A growing legal consensus has emerged in recent years – including from several federal appellate courts – that discrimination based on gender identity (as well as discrimination based on sexual orientation) is covered by laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex.

Judge R. Brooke Jackson for the Federal District of Colorado denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, citing current 10th Circuit precedent that transgender people can bring claims of sex discrimination under Title VII.

Already this year, two similar employment discrimination cases involving LGBTQ people have been decided in favor of the plaintiffs at the federal court of appeal level (one judicial level below the U.S. Supreme Court) — Zarda v. Altitude Express in the 2nd Circuit, and Stephens v. R.G & G.R. Funeral Homes in the 6th Circuit. The decisions in both cases determined that discrimination based on either sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited under federal laws banning discrimination based on sex. Today’s decision fuels momentum around the conversation about the fact that laws barring discrimination based on sex also protect LGBTQ individuals.

Congratulations to Mr. Woodward and the EEOC on this victory. Freedom for All Americans will continue to fight for the dignity of all LGBTQ workers, and to work toward comprehensive nondiscrimination protections across the country.

Learn more about LGBTQ-related litigation in Freedom for All Americans’ Litigation Tracker.

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