SW Legal studies in Business

Gender Discrimination Includes Discrimination Based on Transsexualism in New Jersey
Description Appeals court held that a woman, who had changed her sexual identity and had been dismissed from employment during the process, had a cause of action against her employer for gender discrimination based on transsexualism under New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination.
Topic Employment Discrimination
Key Words Disability Discrimination; Transsexual Discrimination
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Enriquez was born a male and, until February 1998, was legally known as Carlos. Since then, she has legally become Carla. Enriquez is a physician who began a gradual transformation from male to female in 1996. The change in appearance produced disputes at the medical facility where she was employed. In June 1997, Enriquez was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, also known as transsexualism. In July 1997, Enriquez was terminated without cause with 90 days notice. In 1998, after completing surgery and other treatment, Enriquez sued her former employer under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) for gender discrimination. The trial court dismissed the suit, holding that transsexualism is not a handicap under the LAD. Enriquez appealed.
Decision

Reversed. "A person who is discriminated against because he changes his gender from male to female is being discriminated against because he or she is a member of a very small minority whose condition remains incomprehensible to most individuals." Most courts have taken a view of sex discrimination that is "too constricted." While the Americans with Disabilities Act expressly excludes transsexualism, the LAD does not. Further, the LAD "does not require that a disability restrict any major life activities to any degree." Discrimination on the basis of gender dysphoria is gender discrimination. If Enriquez can demonstrate this condition and that she suffered discrimination because of it, she has a cause of action under the LAD.

Citation Enriquez v. SW Legal Jersey Health Systems, 2001 WL 741271 (Superior Ct., App. Div., N.J., 2001)

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