Obama Orders Army to Pay Damages to Trans Man Kept from Women’s Bathroom
The Obama administration has ordered the U.S. Army to pay damages for discriminating against a transgender worker by denying the one-time man access to the women’s bathroom after he “transitioned” to female, thus changing his “gender identity.”
Additionally, the administration has determined that the Army also discriminated against the employee by failing to use his new female name (Tamara Lusardi) and instead continuing to use the name the man was originally hired under. The case involves a military veteran who worked as a civilian software specialist at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) in Redstone, Alabama. Lusardi served in the Army from 1986 to 1993 and claims he suffered in a hostile workplace when management and co-workers kept calling him “sir” after becoming a woman and legally changing his name.
This month the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the bloated federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws, ordered the Army to pay up for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by committing sex discrimination against Lusardi. The EEOC tweaked the 1960s federal law to include transgender to the mix, asserting that it constitutes “gender identity discrimination” and therefore falls under Title VII of the Civil Rights Law. The agency defines transgender as persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.
In the order issued this month the EEOC writes that Lusardi was harassed because superiors used “male pronouns” after he identified as a woman and “referred to her using these male signifiers on at least seven occasions.” The Army also violated Lusardi’s rights by refusing to let him use the women’s bathroom, the EEOC asserts. The document includes testimony from an Army official explaining that Lusardi was assigned a single-user executive restroom because other female employees would feel “extremely uncomfortable having an individual, despite the fact that she is conducting herself as a female, is still basically a male, physically.”
Allowing a man to use the women’s bathroom would cause more problems than having the individual use a private restroom, the official, identified as the Deputy Program Manager of the Program Executive Office, goes on to explain. “I also thought that under the circumstances, the male restroom would be inappropriate. So, that was left to use the single use bathrooms.” Lusardi used the women’s bathroom anyways and management repeatedly asked him to use the gender-neutral executive restroom until he underwent the final surgery for the sex change because it was making other employees uncomfortable.
There is no cause to question that complainant—who was assigned the sex of male at birth but identifies as female—is female, the EEOC writes in its order. “And certainly where, as here, a transgender female has notified her employer that she has begun living and working full-time as a woman, the agency must allow her access to the women’s bathroom,” the EEOC says. “This ‘real-life experience’ often is crucial to a transgender employee’s transition.” The agency found that the Army’s actions were sufficiently severe or pervasive to subject Lusardi to a hostile work environment based on sex and ordered compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.
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