NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A New Orleans law firm is taking on the civil rights case of a Lake Charles man who says he was fired from his job, after he refused to wear a dress, and be treated as a woman. WGNO reporter Deepak Saini explains why this lawsuit is one of the first of its kind in Louisiana.
Two years ago, Tristan Broussard was happy about landing a great job.
“Just the environment inside, everyone was like family in there so I was pretty excited to start the job,” says Broussard.
Shortly after being hired by the Lake Charles branch of Tower Loan, Tristan’s supervisor asked for his driver’s license for paperwork and noticed it stated his ‘Sex’ was listed as ‘female.’
“I was very honest with her. I’m transgendered, but I’m on hormones for at least a year now,” says Broussard.
When the company learned Tristan was Transgender, he says Tower Loan’s Vice President, wanted him to sign a document stating that because Tristan was born a woman, that he should dress and be treated as one. Tristan refused and says he was fired.
“Anger, embarrassment, whenever you’re singled out like that, you don’t feel human anymore. You’re just an alien nobody can understand,” says Broussard.
But the humiliation didn’t end there.
“He said, ‘Well you know, maybe if you had some surgeries, we could see some results and we could consider hiring you back.’,” says Broussard.
After being let go, Tristan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the agency granted him the right to sue.
“You can’t simply deny someone employment based on the fact that they’re transgendered because that’s a violation of federal laws that are protected under sex discrimination,” says Ryan Delaney of Delaney & Robb Attorneys at Law.
Delaney took on Tristan’s case. Since Transgender discrimination in the workplace is a new area of law, civil rights groups such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, are aiding in the cause.
“He was certainly wronged in the situation. Tower Loans biased views of someone’s gender identity was the only reason of firing him. Because otherwise, you meet him and never know he was transgendered,” says Delaney.
For a man who just wants to fit in, what makes him different, could save others like him.
“It’s about making a change. This should not happen to anybody else,” says Broussard.
In his lawsuit, Tristan is seeking financial damages and a jury trial.
Tower Loan’s attorney’s say they won’t comment on pending litigation.
You can read the lawsuit here.