Arkansas Transgender Woman Can Sue Former Employer After Termination
LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) — The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas ruled Tuesday (Aug. 15) that a transgender woman may sue her former employer for sex discrimination under federal law.
The court denied H&H Electric’s motion for summary judgement in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Patricia Dawson. Dawson is a transgender woman and licensed electrician in Arkansas, who claims she was fired by H&H Electric after she transitioned from male to female.
According to Dawson’s lawsuit, the transition was part of her treatment for gender dysphoria, a medical diagnosis give to individuals whose gender identity — their innate sense of being male or female — differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
Dawson’s lawsuit states she was hired at H&H Electric as a registered electrical apprentice in 2008 and four years later had her name legally changed from Steven to Patricia. The lawsuit claims H&H Electric’s vice-president asked Patricia not to use her legal name or discuss her transition with other employees.
Eventually Dawson started wearing makeup and more feminine clothing to work, according to the lawsuit. Several days later, Dawson’s boss told her he had to let her go because she was too much of a distraction, the lawsuit states.
To read the lawsuit, click here.
In its request for summary judgement, H&H Electric argued transsexuals cannot claim protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because Title VII does not provide protected status based on sexual orientation. However, the judge’s order states that argument ignores Dawson’s “asserted theory of discrimination” — that she was fired because of her gender transition and her failure to conform to gender stereotypes — and her facts are sufficient to legally claim H&H Electric discriminated against her because of her sex, which is a violation of Title VII.
Since a judge denied H&H Electric’s motion for summary judgement, the case will proceed to a jury trial.
To read the judge’s order, click here.