Tristan Broussard, a young transgender man, was fired from his manager trainee position at Tower Loan, a Mississippi-based finance company, for not agreeing to dress and be treated as a woman.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and allies filed a federal discrimination lawsuit alleging the company’s firing of Broussard violated Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
An arbitrator ruled in favor of Broussard in November 2016.
The arbitrator found that the company had violated Title VII, noting that Broussard “involuntarily resigned in order to escape an intolerable and illegal employment requirement imposed by the corporate office – that he act and dress only as a female pursuant to [the company’s] personnel policies,” The order directed the company to pay Broussard economic damages equaling more than a year’s salary, along with additional monetary damages for emotional distress.
Tower Loan, a privately held company with 180 locations in five states, hired Broussard in February 2014 as a manager trainee in the company’s Lake Charles, Louisiana, branch. After he started the job, company officials learned that he is transgender and asked him to sign a document stating that his “preference to act and dress as male” was not “in compliance with Tower Loan’s personnel policies,” according to the complaint.
Broussard refused and was fired.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the primary agency charged by Congress with interpreting and enforcing Title VII, has made clear that employers cannot fire or refuse to hire someone solely because they are transgender. Broussard earlier lodged a complaint with the EEOC, which concluded Tower Loan’s action violated Title VII.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, San Francisco-based Altshuler Berzon LLP and New Orleans-based Delaney & Robb Attorneys at Law LLC served as co-counsel in the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.