In an opinion released May 18, 2017 U.S. District Court Judge Joseph F. Leeson, Jr. denied Defendant Cabela’s Retail Inc.’s partial motion to dismiss in Blatt v. Cabela’s, allowing Plaintiff Kate Lynn Blatt, a man formerly known as James who identifies as a woman, to pursue a claim against Cabela’s under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) for alleged discrimination. According to the complaint, Blatt was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2005, and was living openly as a transwoman at the time. Shortly after this diagnosis Blatt was hired by Cabela’s and claims to have experienced discrimination in the workplace, including being denied access to the women’s restroom, and that Blatt was fired following complaints regarding the alleged harassment.
While the ADA explicitly excludes “gender identity disorders,” Judge Joseph F. Leeson, Jr, opines, “In view of these considerations, it is fairly possible to interpret the term gender identity disorders narrowly to refer to simply the condition of identifying with a different gender, not to exclude from ADA coverage disabling conditions that persons who identify with a different gender may have —such as Blatt’s gender dysphoria, which substantially limits her major life activities of interacting with others, reproducing, and social and occupational functioning. Because this interpretation allows the Court to avoid the constitutional questions raised in this case, it is the Court’s duty to adopt it. Accordingly, Blatt’s condition is not excluded by § 12211 of the ADA, and Cabela’s motion to dismiss Blatt’s ADA claims on this basis is denied.”