Transgender Man Sues After Being Fired from “Men Only” Job

A transgender man who had a “male-only” job at a drug treatment facility overseeing male patients giving urine samples is suing to be reinstated after he was fired following his trans identity being discovered.

According to The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), who are representing the man in court, this is a landmark case where trans rights and gender-related job qualifications are concerned.

From the TLDEF press release

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[.pdf] 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.

The New York Times notes that Mr. Devoureau underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006 and his birth certificate, driver’s license, and Social Security records all show that he is male.

As touched on above, trans people continue to suffer widespread workplace discrimination. It is still legal in 38 states to fire someone solely on the basis of their gender identity.

The trans-inclusive federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced in the U.S. House last week by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

Given the Republican majority in the House, the legislation is unlikely to move over the next two years. However, advocates remain hopeful that, despite an initial low number of cosponsors, they will be able to convince a greater number of legislators to support the bill and build on the bipartisan support the legislation already enjoys so that when there is once again a Democratic majority in the House, the legislation will be in a strong position for action. Read more on that here.

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to rykerstribe.

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Krystyna H.
Krystyna H.4 years ago

Jane R., Texas is another planet.

Jane R.
Jane R.4 years ago

I'm undecided on this one.

Jane R.
Jane R.4 years ago

Wrong Krystyna, In Texas you are still the gender stated on your birth certificate, no matter if you surgically changed your gender. I know because I have a nephew/now niece who had the surgery. Married in another country to a native of that country, and his/her marriage is not recognized here.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal4 years ago

Oh for heaven's sake, is he qualified for the job or not?

Don Go
Don Go4 years ago

Let me quote those beautiful words

"What matters in the workplace is how you do your job, not who you are."

Ahhh... simple insight can express truth.

Doug D.
Doug D.4 years ago

I'd say he's the most qualified person for the job. He obviously is not a gay male, and is not interested in the male anatomy.

Ameer T.
Ameer T.4 years ago

So is this a case of wolf in sheep's clothing? i think if he did not harrass anyone sexually, did his medical job thoroughly then there is no problem.
This person BECAME a man by choice and surgery. if the state recognizes him as a man he should be able to perform jobs set out for men.

bob m.
bob m.4 years ago

Well boys or girls; Now if the fox has been biologically "adjusted"; to the extent that said fox now firmly believes he , she or it is no longer a fox.....but a chicken (in fact).
We seem to have a little problem the chicken house.
Seems the girls are a little "uncomfortable".
Maybe a case for ....don't ask..don't tell.
Too bad this case ; the horse is already outa the barn.
So many times I hear how one little complaint brings out the PC
legions; but now if one complains ......welllllll.
What's good for the goose?

Krystyna H.
Krystyna H.4 years ago

Once a person has their gender reassigned they are legally and factually the opposite sex of what they were when they were born.

The reason we are uncomfortable with people of the opposite sex doing intimate and private things with us, is that we presume they have the point of view of the opposite sex. That means that what makes the opposite sex opposite would be what stands out at that moment, and embarrassment is understandable.

But transgendered people, from birth, have never identified with the sex they were born into. A woman who transitions into a man, has never identified with women and never seen men from a woman's point of view. So, if JD was once a woman physically, then transitioned into a man, JD has always looked at life from the male point of view. The mind and perceptions were always that of a male.

Therefore, no man should be embarrassed at being in a vulnerable position with a transitioned male because that male has always been seeing life as a male. And no woman should be embarrassed to be with a transgendered female because that person has always looked at life from a female point of view.

Jc Honeycutt4 years ago

Once gender reassignment is complete, & assuming the employee's appearance is consistent w/ the new gender, I don't see
a basis for the firing.

The article doesn't say if there were complaints from those being tested, or if someone "outed" the ee: since he was fired on his 2nd day, I'd guess the latter, or that the ee made his gender change known to the employer.

Often people are uncomfortable w/ someone who identifies as one gender but looks like the other, depending on the degree of the "disconnect". Obviously this is at least partly because we treat people differently based on gender--and not just in a situation where we need to disrobe/expose ourselves.
My ex-husband's sister married a TG person: he looks/"acts" male, so his wife's (very conservative) family generally accepts him as a man. My impression is that people who've completed reassignment usually "fit" their new gender pretty well; and it's not as if it was the TG ee who was disrobing, so who was offended or harmed?

If those being tested complained because they felt the employee was female, I can see there might be an issue, as there would be a conflict between the employee's rights & the rights of the clients.

I assume that if the employer thought the candidate was female prior to employment, he would not have been hired. If his presence caused problems w/ clients, it could have affected his ability to perform his job effectively. Barring that, the firing seems discriminatory to