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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 3, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 44
Texas employer claims First Amendment right to out Trans employee
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Texas employer claims First Amendment right to out Trans employee

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A car dealer in Texas is defending himself from a discrimination suit in part by claiming that he has a First Amendment free speech right to out a Transgender employee.

Bradley Ruskin was general manager of Roger Beasley's Mitsubishi dealership in South Austin, Texas, from February 2015, through the summer of this year.

While there, he turned around a failing business, increasing the dealership's sales by 540%. Nevertheless, he was harassed by his superiors because he is Transgender, and he was eventually fired without notice or cause.

Rudkin filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and when the EEOC could not bring about a resolution with his employer, Rudkin sued.

In court documents, Rudkin says that soon after he was hired by Beasley in 2015, company vice president Jim Bagan asked him if he was a cross-dresser.

Rudkin responded, 'Do you really want me to comment on that?' to which Bagan said, 'No, just keep it professional.'

On another occasion, the dealership's employees laughed and taunted Rudkin with crude remarks when he was visited at work by his girlfriend, a Trans woman. Rudkin was fired shortly after that incident.

Beasley's attorneys answered that even if the harassment described by Rudkin did, in fact, occur, it was not illegal because discrimination against Trans employees is not covered under Title VII - even though their response was filed weeks before the Trump-Sessions Justice Department canceled Obama-era protections for Trans workers.

Furthermore, Beasley said he had a First Amendment free speech right to out Rudkin to other employees.

Subsequently, Beasley CFO Steve Tonsi released a document originally filed with the EEOC charging Rudkin with a list of 'fireable offenses,' all of which Rudkin denied and which the EEOC did not find credible.

In addition to the South Austin location where Rudkin worked, the Roger Beasley Automotive Group has Mazda dealerships in North and South Austin, Georgetown, and Killeen, Texas; and Hyundai dealerships in Kyle and New Braunfels, Texas.

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