Civil Rights

Gender identity disorder should be protected by ADA, transgender plaintiff argues

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Can a transgendered individual sue for workplace discrimination? Yes, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said last year, and the question of whether gender identity disorder should be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act is currently being litigated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania U.S. District Court.

Lawyers for Katie Lynn Blatt brought her discrimination action under the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Legal Intelligencer reports. The case was filed in August, shortly after the EEOC issued a right-to-sue notice, and her lawyers yesterday filed a response to defendant Cabela’s Retail motion to dismiss.

The ADA excludes “transsexualism” in its definition of a disability, the Jan. 20 plaintiff filing (PDF) notes. Not including transsexualism—which is often referred to as gender identity disorder by the medical community— amounts to a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, the filing states.

“Upon an investigation into Congress’ justifications for the GID exclusion, the congressional record reveals nothing more than constitutionally impermissible discrimination, devoid of any compelling, important or legitimate governmental interest,” the filing states.

According to WFMZ-TV, Blatt claims that she was not allowed to use the women’s restroom at the Berks County Cabela’s where she worked. The Advocate reports that Cabela’s management insisted she wear a “gender-appropriate uniform” at work, have a name tag that reflected her “true identity.” Blatt reportedly was fired from Cabela’s in 2007.

According to the Jan. 20 filing, the sporting goods store also thought that Blatt had a mental infirmity that impaired her ability to think clearly and interact with people. She was secluded in a store area from other employees, according to the complaint, and denied several promotions. It also states that a manager told her that he felt she was well-qualified to do the jobs she applied for, but Cabela’s corporate office instructed him not to promote her.

“Can you believe this cross-dressing gay fruit wants a job in my department?” Blatt reportedly heard another manager say. “The confused sicko can’t figure out that he is gay and admit it. I won’t interview him under any circumstances.”

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