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Bank Customer May Have Suffered Sex Discrimination for Cross-Dressing
Description Appeals court held that a man who went to a bank dressed in female clothing, and was told to go home and change before the bank would take his loan application, may proceed with his suit for sex discrimination against the bank under the ECOA.
Topic Consumer Protection
Key Words Equal Credit Opportunity Act; Cross-Dressing
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Lucas Rosa, a male, went to a bank to apply for a loan. He was dressed in women's clothing. A bank employee requested to see his identification, which he produced, showing him dressed as a man. The employee said she would not provide him a loan application unless he went home and changed into male attire, so he would look like his ID cards. He sued the bank for violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act for "requiring him to conform to sex stereotypes." Supported by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates, he also sued for emotional distress, depression, humiliation, and extreme embarrassment. The district court dismissed the suit, holding that the ECOA does not prohibit discrimination based on clothing. Rosa appealed.
Decision Reversed and remanded. To prevail under ECOA, Rosa must show that he suffered discrimination on the basis of sex. While the ECOA does not state that this includes cross- dressing, the issue here does involve sex. It is possible that "the Bank may treat, for credit purposes, a woman who dresses like a man differently than a man who dresses like a woman. If so, the Bank concedes, Rosa may have a claim." If he was discriminated against because the loan officer thought him to be gay, he would have no claim under ECOA. Or the loan officer may not have been certain of his identity. Only a trial will determine the facts of the incident.
Citation Rosa v. Park SW Legal Bank & Trust Co., F.3d (2000 WL 726228, 1st Cir., 2000)

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