A federal district court in Michigan declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against a funeral home that allegedly fired a transgender woman, Amiee Stephens. The court noted that transgender status is not a protected class under Title VII. However, the EEOC’s complaint asserted that the Funeral Home fired Stephens “because Stephens did not conform to the [Funeral Home’s] sex- or gender-based preferences, expectations, or stereotypes.” Binding Sixth Circuit precedent establishes that any person without regard to labels such as transgender can assert a sex-stereotyping gender discrimination claim under Title VII, under a Price Waterhouse theory, if that person’s failure to conform to sex stereotypes was the driving force behind the termination. The court therefore concluded that the EEOC’s complaint states a claim as to Stephens’s termination.
On November 14, 2013, Jerome Nimmons filed a four-count complaint against Defendants Deputy Duone Clark (“Clark”), Sheriff R.L. Conway and Gwinnett County, in which Nimmons alleged that Defendants violated his rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and “pendant state law [against] sexual assault.” On December 23, 2011, Nimmons, a transgender person, was housed as a male pre-trial detainee in the Gwinnett County Detention Center (“Detention Center”). Nimmons alleges that Clark sexually assaulted him at the Detention Center. On December 28, 2013, Clark was served with the Summons and Complaint. Clark did not file a responsive pleading. On June 2, 2014, Nimmons moved for a default judgment against Clark, (the “Default Judgment Motion”). On August 25, 2014, the Court granted Sheriff Conway’s and Gwinnett County’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and dismissed them from the action.
The court granted Nimmons’ Default Judgment Motion against Clark and ordered him to pay $150,000. Clark was charged in connection with the sexual assault.
A Man who identifies as a Woman is taking action against his insurance company, which has refused to pay for sex reassignment surgery. Ashlyn Trider, formerly Dustin, 33, said Aetna Life Insurance Company’s refusal to pay for sex reassignment surgery prescribed by her doctor violates Colorado law. A Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies’s bulletin B-B.49 states health insurers cannot deny coverage of treatments for transgender policyholders if the same treatments are covered for other policyholders.
Tina M. Carr, a transsexual Unitarian Universalist, lost a lawsuit for employment discrimination against North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Systems, Inc. Carr, who has an externship with the hospital, claimed the hospital told her not to return to her externship. Carr surmised this was because she was in the UU church and was transsexual. As proof of discrimination, she overheard a person say that “he-shes . . . and the gays will need to answer to Jesus some day.” The court found that this single remark, standing alone, was not sufficient to raise a claim of discrimination.
A federal court in New York threw out several claims in a lawsuit filed by a group of transgender people that they were denied health care because New York failed to fully fund the treatment of gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria under the Medicaid program, including refusing surgery for those under 18. The plaintiffs argued that because federal law provides that “an individual shall not … be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under, any health program or activity” that receives federal funding on the basis of certain criteria, including sex, an exclusion banning minors from receiving treatment violated the law. The court disagreed, noting that the youth exclusion drew distinctions on the basis of age, not sex, and therefore did not violate federal law.
James Hamlett claims he was fired from Newark Public Schools after he transitioned to “Christine.” Oddly, he transitioned in 1983, and acted in a variety of capacities for decades as Christine, including a special program for pregnant girls, guidance counselor and attendance supervisor in the district’s central office. Hamlett was fired after he had to be fingerprinted for a new position, which turned up criminal convictions for shoplifting and marijuana possession. According to a news account, Hamlett claims that the convictions “were related to behavior changes as a result of medical and hormonal treatments she was undergoing to prepare for her reassignment surgery.” Hamlett argued that the fingerprinting was “unfair.”
The lawsuit represents a trend among transgender people, who sometimes argue that anything they did prior to transition should not somehow count in their post-transition lives. The case of Donna/Doug Perry is probably the most egregious example of this. Perry murdered three women “as a man,” but discounted his responsibility for the crimes when he “transitioned.”
BART (California) police have become one of the first police departments in the country to implement a specific policy governing interactions with transgender individuals. No specific problem or complaint spurred the creation of the new policy, but police officials decided to create the policy in an effort to strengthen the department’s relationship with the community, according to BART.