Transgender Police Officer Settles Claim Against Bay Area Police Department

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Transgender Police Officer Settles Claim Against Bay Area Police Department
June 13, 2013

A settlement has been reached in a landmark discrimination case involving a transgender police officer in the Bay Area. The case was brought by the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center and the Transgender Law Centeron behalf of “Officer T.,” a 17-year veteran of the police department who was subjected to serious discrimination and harassment by other officers after he transitioned from female to male.

Officer T. repeatedly notified superior officers of the harassment, which included being intentionally called by the wrong pronoun and being called to incident scenes and instructed to pat down female suspects. Officer T. alleges that the harassment went on for nearly seven years, and that his station commanders refused to stop it or to discipline the officers involved. 

“All I've ever wanted to do was to work as hard as I could, responding to urgent calls and protecting the public,” said Officer T.  He continued, “But I just couldn’t tolerate the overwhelming amount of bigotry and discrimination. Though I never wanted it to get to this point, I finally had to say enough is enough.”

As a result of the harassment, Officer T. suffered extreme emotional distress that negatively impacted his health and his economic security, and that threatened to impact the safety of the residents he pledged to serve. When his complaints through internal channels did not stop the harassment, Officer T. contacted TLC and Legal Aid for legal assistance.

According to Transgender Law Center Staff Attorney Matt Wood, “We are pleased that we have reached a resolution of Officer T.’s claims that is satisfactory to everyone involved, but we remain concerned that such claims were raised in the first place. No one should have to suffer that kind of harassment on the job just for being who they are.”

Elizabeth Kristen, Director of the Gender Equity & LGBT Rights Program at the Legal Aid Society– Employment Law Center, added, “Harassment of transgender employees remains a serious problem, even here in the Bay Area.  Officer T.’s bravery in coming forward to challenge this harassment benefits all of us.”

Recent reports show that transgender workers face high rates of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Injustice at Every Turn, a 2011 report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, found that transgender people “experience unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole.”  Nearly 90% of the 6,450 individuals surveyed reported harassment or mistreatment on the job, and 47% reported that they had experienced an adverse job action because of their gender identity or expression.      

Transgender employees who believe they have experienced employment discrimination or harassment should seek help from Transgender Law Center (415-865-0176 or transgenderlawcenter.org/help) or Legal Aid Society– Employment Law Center (415-864-8848 or www.las-elc.org).

2007

Managing Attorney William C. McNeill receives the Kutak-Dodds Award from the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), as well as the Oberlin Alumni Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award. Senior Staff Attorney Christopher Ho receives the Alumni Public Service Award from Stanford Law School.

2009

Senior Staff Attorney Claudia Center receives the Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights from the ABA Commission on Mental and Physical Disability Law.

2011

Senior Staff Attorney Sharon Terman receives the Stanford Law School Miles L. Rubin Public Interest Award.

2013

LAS-ELC launches a project to provide employment-related legal services to those who have served in the military and their families, called Jobs & Justice for Service Members, Veterans and Military Families.

2013

Senior Staff Attorney Christopher Ho is honored by Chinese for Affirmative Action for his litigation on behalf of immigrants.

2008

Participating in a broad coalition of civil rights leaders, LAS–ELC drafts portions of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008, signed into law by President George W. Bush.

2013

Senate Bill 400, cosponsored by LAS-ELC, is signed into law. It prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because they are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. And it requires employers to provide reasonable safety accommodations to survivors at work.

2013

Senate Bill 770, sponsored by LAS–ELC, is signed into law. It expands Paid Family Leave to include caregiving for seriously ill siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and parents-in-law.

2014

LAS-ELC helps ensure passage of the San Francisco Retail Workers Bill of Rights, which gives more predictable schedules and greater opportunities for full-time work to restaurant and retail workers. 

2007

Guo Jianmei, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Director of the Peking University Women’s Legal Aid Center asks staff attorneys Patricia Shiu and Elizabeth Kristen to partner on a pioneering legal initiative to address workplace sexual harassment in China. This effort has the potential to affect as many as 10 million low-income women in the Chinese textile and garment industry.

2009

With the economy stagnant and unemployment high, calls to LAS–ELC’s free legal clinics spike. In 2009, the Workers Rights Clinics serve 2,800 low-wage individuals, and the work and family hotline responds to 1,000 calls.

2012

The Workers’ Rights Clinic adds locations in Fresno and Santa Ana (Orange County).

2014

LAS-ELC adds Workers' Rights Clinic location in Woodland to serve Davis/Sacramento area, in addition to San Francisco, Berkeley, Fresno and Santa Ana (Orange County).