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EEOC Joins Transgender Discrimination Lawsuit

In what may be a landmark transgender rights case, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has intervened on behalf of a transgender man suing his former employer for discrimination.

Tristan Broussard is alleging that Mississippi-based First Tower Loan LLC wanted him to sign a document acknowledging that his "preference to act and dress as a male, despite having been born a female" violated the company's policies, and fired him when he refused. His lawsuit against the company is included below, and he has now acquired a powerful ally in the EEOC.

Transgender Protections

In 2013, the EEOC ruled that Title VII protects transgender employees from workplace discrimination. The EEOC guidance on LGBT workers prohibits employers from discriminating against transgender applicants or employees, including discrimination based on sex-stereotypes or gender norms. And the EEOC is committed to investigating claims from individuals who think they've been discriminated against based on sex or sexual orientation.

Which is all to say that employers should have been on notice that sexual orientation discrimination is illegal, that transgender employees need to be treated equally, and that courts and the EEOC are serious about punishing transgender discrimination.

EEOC Violations

As reported by WWLTV:

"Broussard alleges and Tower Loan admits that when Broussard was hired as a manager trainee in March 2013, he had to produce a driver's license that said he was female. Asked about it, Broussard told the Tower Loan representative he was a transgender man. A week later, Tower Loan admits in court filings, a company vice president, David Morgan, traveled to Lake Charles to tell Broussard that he must dress as a woman."

Broussard also alleges the loan company asked to him to sign a document acknowledging that his gender identification violated the company's policies and acknowledging that he would need to share hotel rooms with women if traveling overnight for business.

You can read the full complaint below. It doesn't look good for Tower Loans, who admits its vice president asked Broussard to sign the document and said the document "speaks for itself."

Stephanie Tristan Broussard v. First Tower Loan: Complaint by FindLaw