Monday, April 11, 2011

New Jersey Court Asked to Decide What Constitutes a "Man" in Transgender Discrimination Suit

In a case of the perfect storm facts giving rise to one interesting employment discrimination claim, a transgender male in New Jersey, El’Jai Devoureau, who was employed as a part-time urine monitor with Urban Treatment Associates in Camden, New Jersey has filed a discrimination complaint after being fired the second day on the job once his boss learned he was a transgender. Urban Treatment claims the termination "was legitimate, 'since the sex of the employee engaged in that particular job position is a bona fide occupational qualification' — implying that Mr. Devoureau was not really a man." Now, in theory, a New Jersey court has to decide what makes one a "man." Devoureau says he has identified himself as a male all his life.

This may be a first case of its kind and may settle before a court can delve into this complex and interesting question but it's definitely a case to monitor. Only 12 states have legislation that specifically protects transgender status and Wisconsin is not one of those states at the moment. Wisconsin protects sexual orientation which, under the right facts, could also be protective of a transgender individual.

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