A transgender nurse has been awarded $A167,902 in damages after being banned from using a bathroom corresponding with his gender identity.
Jesse Vroegh successfully sued the state of Iowa for gender discrimination.
He argued his employer, the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women, forced him to use the female toilet, despite identifying as male.
Transgender nurse banned from using male facilities
Despite being born with female anatomy, Vroegh has identified as male since the age of 7.
He claimed his employer refused his request to use the men’s restrooms at the prison.
Additionally, he said the Iowa employees insurance plan contained a specific exclusion denying coverage for transition-related surgeries.
In his law suit, Vroegh argues his employer treated him differently because of his gender identity.
Vroegh said in a statement:
“This whole lawsuit process has been difficult and emotionally very trying.
“But I do it because it’s important for all the transgender Iowans who come after me.
“They deserve fair and equal treatment.”
As a result of the case, the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Vroegh, described the decision as “historic”.
Further, it’s the first transgender rights case filed in Iowa after the state added gender identity protections to its Civil Rights Act.
What the law says in Australia
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says similar discrimination laws apply in Australia.
“It is unlawful to discriminate against someone based on their gender, or gender identity,” he said.
So that means you cannot treat someone less favourably because they are transgender.
“If Australia employers don’t allow a transgender person to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, they could face legal action for unlawful discrimination.”
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