A Case of Horrific Transgender Employment Discrimination Orange County California

11/08/2017 04:22 am ET

A constructive discharge is an employment law term, relatively unknown by people not in the legal profession.  It is used when an employee is forced to quit their job because the working conditions are so deplorable the average reasonable person would not be expected to work in the same environment. 

With the above in mind, clear your head of everything else and try to imagine being a black or Asian man being told to use a restroom at a gas station two miles from your office. How about being a woman and having your manager ask you, “How is your p---y doing?" when you don't own a cat. What about having your employer touch your breast or genital region?

You would think you were living in the deep south circa 1940's or at the start of the feminist movement in 1970's when some men made a point of showing women just how ugly and sexist they could be. If you are thinking this behavior is morally repugnant, inexcusable and, very much illegal, you would be correct.

You would never imagine I would be referring to working conditions in 2017 at a car dealership in Orange County California that is part one of the biggest automotive groups in the nation. 

The story I am about to share with you involves a transgender woman employed by the dealership who suffered horrific psychological and physical abuse while on the job.  After reading the 18-page complaint filed in the Superior Court of California - County of Orange, and speaking on several occasions with plaintiff's attorney, I have come to the conclusion this complaint brings a whole new meaning to workplace discrimination.  Quite possibly, this will be a landmark case for transgender rights in state of California and federal law in the United States.

In an interview with Howard Rutten, attorney for the transgender-woman, I asked him to describe the nature of the abuse and why this case is important to transgender-law. Here is what he had to say.

“The law in California is perfectly clear that the civil rights of transgender people are no less worthy than anyone else. The car dealership knew that Candice (a pseudonym) deserved the same protection under the law as any other person, but, unfortunately, treated her in a cruel and sadistic manner.” Candice's supervisor, the General Manager of several affilated dealerships, began “grooming” her as would any sexual predator. He escalated from asking vulgar and crude questions about Candice's anatomy to questioning her about explicit details of her sexual preferences. He would ask, for example, whether she still produced semen or, whether she enjoyed anal sex.

Her manager would stand behind Candice, stare down her top and ask about her breasts. He would try to force Candice into his private office bathroom, encouraging her to change her clothes. would grab her and try to pull her under his desk to give him oral sex. The manager sexually harassed Candice almost daily. When she complained to upper management, which she did often, the manager became more abusive. He would tell Candice, “look where complaining got you, now you’re back in my office dealing with me.”

Until the events in this case happened, Candice had lived her entire public life with the mask of being male. It was not until she began working at the dealership in 2013, her second time with the company, this time as a woman. She did everything correct in terms of educating her employer about her transition. She showed great understanding for the divergence of viewpoints regarding transgender people.

She sought nothing more than to be treated with dignity and respect.  Yet, as soon as Candice made her transition, her manager began sexually harassing her. The highest level of corporate management not only refused to condemn and put a stop to this illegal conduct, but in fact wanted to drive Candice out of the company because of her gender identity. Knowing this was illegal, management refused to allow Candice access to the women’s restroom. Candice was demoted and told that because of what she had “done” to herself there was no opportunity for her at the company. If she “changed back,” however, they told her she could “go anywhere she wanted” One time she was told to hide when company owner visited the dealership. The manager said to her, “this is a very conservative company and they do not approve of what you did to yourself.” In the end, working conditions became so intolerable that Candice was forced out. Indeed, she was fearful that the manager’s increased sexual aggression and abuse would lead to her being raped.

The psychological impact of this abuse to Candice was substantial. She has developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, major depression and anxiety. Worse yet, after being on the road to overcoming a lifelong struggle with her gender identity, and beginning to complete the transition to living and presenting as a woman, Candice retreated back to presenting as male. This continues to cause her untold emotional distress and physical suffering.

This case is set for trial on October 30, 2017. We think it is important to present this case to a jury and send a message that transgender discrimination and harassment will not be tolerated in our society.."

Transgender discrimination is more prevalent then you think and when you look at percentages to population sexual harassment or work place discrimination  that happens to the gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans is much higher then in heterosexual population  but transgender discrimination is even higher. then what gay, lesbian or bisexual Americans face in the workplace. 

In a 2011 study conducted by the UCLA Williams Institute it was discovered that 78% of transgender Americans experienced one form of harassment or mistreatment at work because of their gender identity. Forty-seven percent were not hired nor promoted or lost their job due to their gender identity and in a 2009 California survey 70% of transgender respondents experienced employment discrimination because of their gender identity.

So, I ask you for one moment  to envision, not Candice but you, your girlfriend, your mother or sister, being touched, fondled and being asked to perform sexual favors on a daily basis. You would not stand for nor would you allow a loved one to endure these most horrific violations of employment discrimination. Right?

Why should Candice?

Note Kathie Moehlig Trans Family SOS consulted on this  editorial , The name of victim has been protected and changed .. Thank you to Adam Plendl for editing

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