April 11, 2011
Female-to-Male Transgender Man Sues to Reclaim Job
First-Ever Lawsuit to Challenge Discriminatory View That Transgender Men Cannot Work As Men
New York, New York – The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) announced today that it has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a transgender man who was fired from a male-only job solely because he is transgender. This is the first lawsuit to challenge the firing of a transgender person from a job where being male or female is a job qualification.
In June 2010, defendant Urban Treatment Associates LLC (“Urban Treatment,” based in Camden, New Jersey) hired plaintiff El’Jai Devoureau as a urine monitor for men. His job responsibilities included monitoring male outpatients as they provided urine samples for drug testing. On his second day of work, Urban Treatment was told that Mr. Devoureau had transitioned from female to male and fired him on the spot.
The lawsuit challenges Urban Treatment’s termination of Mr. Devoureau as a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which protects transgender people from employment discrimination. In filings before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, Urban Treatment claimed Mr. Devoureau was not male and therefore not qualified for the job.
"This lawsuit challenges the discriminatory view that transgender men cannot work as men,” said TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman. “El’Jai was qualified for the job and he performed it without complaint or incident," he added. "What matters in the workplace is how you do your job, not who you are."
Transgender people face tremendous discrimination in the workplace. Forty-seven percent of transgender people report being fired, or denied a job or promotion, just because of who they are. “I needed this job to support myself and my family. In this economy, jobs are really hard to find," said Mr. Devoureau. “They were happy to have me work there until they heard about my transition. I’m a hard worker and it’s unfair that I was fired over something that has nothing to do with how well I did the job," added Mr. Devoureau.
Jim Walden, Rachel Lavery, Lauren Sager, and Benjamin Wastler of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Robyn Gigl of Stein, McGuire, Pantages & Gigl, LLP serve as co-counsel with TLDEF for Mr. Devoureau.
The case is EL’JAI DEVOUREAU v. CAMDEN TREATMENT ASSOCIATES. LLC, t/a URBAN TREATMENT ASSOCIATES, INC., VAN MACALUSO, Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County.