Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Transgender Woman Sues Former Employer Over Photo Request

According to this article from The Advocate, a Pennsylvania transgender woman has filed suit against her former employer, who she said requested a photograph of her genitalia as a condition of continued employment.

In 2007, Kate Lynn Blatt, was employed by Manpower Inc., a staffing services agency that placed Blatt at an aluminum products manufacturer for $10 per hour as a temporary factory worker. However, she was let go by the plant after a supervisor said she was not healthy enough to complete her job.

Shortly following her dismissal, Blatt returned to the Manpower office to regain employment. It was at this time that Irene Kudziela, a Manpower branch manager, said she needed to turn in a letter from her surgeon that documented her sex-reassignment surgery along with a photograph of her genitalia, which Kudziela said would solve problems related to appropriate use of restrooms and locker rooms.

Blatt, 28, told the Philadelphia Gay News that she found the request “disgusting,” refused to comply, and promptly filed a bias complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, saying she was dismissed wrongfully due to her gender identity and her disability -- she identified her disability as sexual dysphoria.

“I was trying to work there in a dignified and private manner, but my dignity and privacy were constantly being violated,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Manpower Inc. told the Philadelphia Gay News that she could not comment on the specifics of the case, but said the company works to ensure a safe and nonexploitative work environment.

Now Blatt is looking to prevent similar situations. Currently unemployed, she said she’d be interested in advocating on behalf of the transgender community, assisting companies through tolerance training.

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