Legal Newsline

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Colorado business seeks dismissal of transgender man's discrimination complaint

By Angela Underwood | Apr 11, 2018

DENVER (Legal Newsline) – A Colorado tire shop has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over allegations it reneged on its decision to hire a transgender male.

Defendant A&E Tire filed the motion to dismiss charges of discrimination brought by the EEOC and Egan Woodward, who alleged he was not hired by A & E Tire because he is a transgender male. According to a EEOC press release the "alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, including transgender status and sex-based stereotypes."

Defendant's attorney Marilee Langhoff cited Bell Atl. Corp v. Twombly to state that “a complaint must allege ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’”

However the EEOC believes there are more than enough facts. Woodward's paperwork identified his assigned sex at birth and that he used a female name in the past.

The EEOC alleges that less than an hour after A&E Tire extended Woodward a job offer, he received a call from a manager asking him if there were a mistake in his paperwork.

Woodward said there wasn't, and A&E allegedly never contacted him again about starting employment. The job went to someone else, the EEOC says. 

Quoting Ridge at Red Hawk LLC v. Schneider 2007, Langhoff wrote “moreover, particularly pertinent to this case, is that ‘the mere metaphysical possibility that some plaintiff could prove some set of facts in support of the pleaded claims is insufficient; the complaint must give the court reason to believe that this plaintiff has a reasonable likelihood of mustering factual support for these claims.’”

But Elizabeth Cadle, district director for the Phoenix District Office, says transgender employees should not be deprived of the right and ability to do so just because of unfounded fears, misconceptions, and biases.

"Transgender individuals want to work and give to the economy, sharing their skills and ideas just like anyone else," Cradle added. 

According to A&E Tire, the complaint against it is barren of any supposed sex- or gender-based discrimination between the manager of A&E and Woodward.

"It is readily apparent that the sole basis for plaintiff’s claim in this matter is Woodward’s status as a transgendered individual. While the EEOC, and some jurisdictions other than the 10th Circuit, have held that a person’s status as transgender is sufficient to establish the first prong of a Title VII claim, that law does not govern in this district," the company wrote.

"The fact that Woodward is transgendered is not fatal to the claim in this matter, but at this time in this jurisdiction, without more, plaintiff cannot state a viable Title VII claim and the complaint is properly dismissed."

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U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado