Current Affairs

Trans woman seeks damages after losing job offer

PinkNews Staff Writer December 19, 2006
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Gay law group Lambda Legal has filed papers in federal court in the Southern District of Texas on behalf of a transgender woman whose employment offer was allegedly rescinded because she is transgender.

“When the HR Director found out the company offered a job to a transgender person, the offer was rescinded,” said Cole Thaler, Transgender Rights Attorney at Lambda Legal.

“Even though Izza was the best applicant for the job, the company decided that it didn’t want a transgender employee and claimed that she ‘misrepresented’ herself.”

Lambda Legal represents Izza Lopez, a 26-year-old transgender woman from Houston, Texas. In September 2005, Lopez applied for the position of scheduler with River Oaks Imaging and Diagnostic, a medical imaging company in Houston. Lopez sent in her resume, was invited in for an interview, completed a background check and drug test, and on October 4, 2005, she was asked to start work as soon as possible.

Lopez gave notice to her then-current employer the following day and planned to start working at River Oaks the week of October 24.

On October 10, however, Lopez received a phone call from River Oaks’ human resources director and one of its employment recruiters saying that River Oaks was rescinding its offer of employment because of her “misrepresentation” of herself as a woman.

Lopez was unable to get her previous job back and was without employment for several months.

Lambda Legal filed Lopez v. River Oaks in the Southern District of Texas in the Fifth Circuit of the federal court system. The lawsuit charges that River Oaks violated Lopez’s rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in employment.

“As an applicant, I was interviewed by a manager and a director who both felt I was qualified to do the job,” said Lopez. “I was shocked when I received the call from human resources taking away the job they’d offered me – it felt as if they’d said to me ‘you’re a monster; we don’t want you here.'”

Lopez v. River Oaks is Lambda Legal’s latest lawsuit in its Blow the Whistle campaign to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and those with HIV in the workplace. At Lambda Legal’s Blow the Whistle campaign website visitors can learn how to share their own stories of workplace discrimination or become an ally to others in the Blow the Whistle campaign. Employers, unions, coworkers, customers and clients can all serve as important allies for fairness in the workplace.

“Motivated by a commitment to equal treatment for all employees, allies can help ensure that people like Izza Lopez are treated fairly at work,” Thaler said.

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