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Transgender Exclusion to the ADA being Challenged in Court

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Kate Lynn Blatt, a transgender woman who was fired from her job at sporting goods superstore Cabela’s, has recently filed a discrimination suit, making claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and more crucially, under the ADA, in a case that looks to have a good chance to have the trans-exclusionary language within the ADA struck down as unconstitutional.

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1989, the senators included language that excluded behavior they deemed “immoral” from the ADA’s protections, including transvestism, transexualism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders. Transgender people were lumped in with those with a penchant for pedophilia, voyeurism, exhibitionism, compulsive gambling, pyromania and kleptomania.

Over the past several years cases brought against employers who were alleged to have discriminated against transgendered employees based on the ADA were dismissed out of hand by the courts because the language and intent of the law were clear.

Kate Lynn was employed at Cabela’s as a stock person, while she was in the process of transitioning, and had to ask repeatedly for weeks in order to receive her female uniform. She had to provide a court order to “prove her sex and name” to get her name on her name tag, which was subsequently repeatedly misspelled. In spite of the court order stating that she was female, she was not allowed to use the ladies restroom, Cabela’s insisting that she provide medical documentation of her “anatomically appropriate gender.” When Kate complained about having to use what she describes as an unhygienic unisex bathroom, she was retaliated against with fictitious accusations of inappropriate workplace conduct. Kate Lynn also alleges that she was taunted by her colleagues with names like “ladyboy,” “freak” and “sinner.”

In a fight that has been running for years now, Ms. Blatt has already twice prevailed, with a 2010 Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ruling that she was “probably discriminated against” and a 2014 ruling by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Cabela’s “likely discriminated” against her, and issued a right-to-sue letter. Cabela’s has issued motions that stating (in contradiction to the court order they’re already in possession of) that they don’t accept that Kate Lynn Blatt is a woman, something that certainly isn’t going to help their case as this heads to the courts.

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