Transgender Man Sues Camden Drug Center Over Firing From ‘Men-Only’ Job

HADDONFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A transsexual New Jersey man has sued the drug-treatment center where he worked, claiming it discriminated against him when it fired him from a job that only a man can do: watching men urinate.

Experts believe El’Jai Devoureau’s case is the first in the U.S. where a transgender employee has claimed an employer discriminated based on birth gender.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports: Devoureau Said He Always Lived His Life As A Man

“As our society becomes appropriately more tolerant, I hope that there are more brave people that are willing to endure the collateral problems by drawing a line in the sand and saying they won’t stand for discrimination,” said Jim Walden, a lawyer representing Devoureau.

The question at the heart of a case is whether someone who is living as a man and recognized by the government as a man is one when it comes to employment.

Devoureau, 39, was born with female genitalia but says in his legal complaint that he always considered himself male.

“I did everything that boys do; climb trees, play football, play with cars,” Devoureau told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

Five years ago, he began counseling and male hormone treatments. In 2009, he had sex-reassignment surgery. His driver’s license, birth certificate and Social Security cards have all been reissued to reflect that he’s a man.

He says managers at Urban Treatment Centers in Camden believed he was a man when the drug treatment center hired him in June to monitor men as they gave urine samples for drug tests. Because of its nature, the job was open only to men — a prerequisite his lawyer says was appropriate.

According to his lawsuit, Devoureau went through one day of training. When he reported to work the next day, he said, a manager asked if he was male. He said he was, and the manager then asked if he had undergone any surgeries, according to the lawsuit. After he refused to answer, the lawsuit says, Devoureau was fired.

“They told me that someone told them that I was not a male, that I was a transgender and I told them that I was a man and I could do the job,” Devoureau said. “They said, ‘You’re fired.'”

Devoureau, who lives in Gloucester County, filed a complaint through the state Division on Civil Rights in January and his lawsuit in state court on Friday.

“What matters is not who I am but how I do the job,” Deoureau said.

The company would not comment. Its lawyer, Michael Sweeney, did not immediately return a call.

In a response to the civil rights complaint, the company maintained that it was appropriate to remove Devoureau from the job because only men were allowed to hold the position.

New Jersey is one of a dozen states in the nation that bans discrimination based on transgender status, a law that was adopted in 2006 and took effect in 2007.

“It’s the first case that asks the question of whether a transgender person, in this case a transgender male, is male for purposes of working,” Michael Silverman, of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, said.

Jillian Todd Weiss, a professor of law and society at New Jersey’s Ramapo College who also consults with employees about workplaces transgender issues, said it appears to be a simple case under the state’s laws and judicial precedent.

“I would have absolutely told them to retain the employee and think about how to address transphobia and heterosexism in their environment. You don’t ask someone: ‘What do your genitalia look like?”’ she said. “That was a very poor choice on the employer’s part.”

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Mike Gieser

    I didn’t read all the comments, but I would like to post an opinion anyway. Did anyone mention the rights of the person peeing? I don’t care which adult gender sees me pee, but if it’s a woman, how can I be sure that she won’t later have me charged with indecent exposure? There’s some crazy biotches out there and pardon me for thinking a transgendered one could be one of the worst. How many cases have you read about men being charged with bogus evidence concocted by some vindictive female; only later to be exonerated? But, hey, with gender “equality” heading in this direction, who’s to say that a man wouldn’t be allowed to bring indecent exposure charges against another man? What’s to stop a man from stating that he was offended by the exposure because he is a pre-op transsexual? Or because he’s a woman trapped in a man’s body? Eventually, we’ll have women trapped in men’s bodies peeing in front of men trapped in women’s bodies, and they’ll both sue. each other.

  • Sympatheric

    Interesting that my sympathetic comment was removed, though quite nasty ones remain!

    I reiterate, though, that if Mr. Devoureau’s parents raised their infant daughter as a boy from birth, despite female genitals, then the basic decision was theirs. Five years ago he decided they were right, and he began counseling to transsexuallize.

    That’s not quite like transgenders who independently realize they are born into the wrong body anywhere from early childhood to late adulthood. They are raised by their parents in the obvious gender, but realize it is the wrong one. The realization and adjustment complete their decision, as they wish to be made whole. Jan Morris’ Conundrum (1974) is again the perfect endearing example of this; at age 4 she understood she was a girl in a boy’s body.

  • Rips

    TOMNJ’s comments are totally logical and I feel the same way
    It’s too bad this opinion is considered bigotry because it’s not
    You guys probably don’t know how pervasive female-to-male transition is these days, espcially among teenagers- there are girls starting testosterone at age 16 or younger…

  • Rcik

    akk617 you keep saying He in your comments, shouldn’t it be she now. I still think you confuse.

    • Michael H.

      Read the article. He was born a “she” and underwent hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery and is now “he”.


  • Trishe

    This seems to be a violation of: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008. He had a gender reassignment and the government recognize it by reissuing social security card and IDs. Why did the employer asked if he had any surgeries? This is invasive. Employers are now asking applicatants their race, ethicity, sex, age and now we have to provide any past surgeries. hope he wins otherwise this will serve as a precedence for Corporations not hire individuals based on a possible pre-existing condition..

  • TomNJ

    All my life, I have felt like the Napoleon. I dress like him and act like him. I want employers to allow me to work as him no matter how they may feel. I want society to accept me as napoleon every were I go. It is my right as an American to be Napoleon no matter what I was born as. Now, does that not sound silly? Switch Napoleon for gender and it is the same. Mental Illness if you ask me.

    • Michael H.

      Your comment made no sense, and everybody who read it is now more stupid for having done so.

      • TomNJ

        I have not seen any proof that there is a chemical or any physical reason for gender identity issues. They claim to be born that way, and there is something “wrong”, but to say the are not who they are physically, to claim there is another person “inside” , well, that becomes very hard to make sense of. Like I said, we are born male and female, if we decide (at any age) we “feel” like the other gender, then I would look at mental issues before and kind of physical reasons. I had a dog once that acted like the cats in the house, but attaching whiskers and claws and pretending he was a cat would not have made sense, would it?

      • Michael H.

        Except often this is not just a mental issue, but chemical and chromosomal/genetic as well.

      • Michael H.

        “I have not seen any proof” means you haven’t examined the articles in peer reviewed medical journals on the subject. Do some real research on the subject before you start attacking transgendered community.

      • TomNJ

        I meant society should “not” go along with the delusion. Typo, sorry. lol

      • TomNJ

        I am just saying that any time a person thinks they are not what they were born as (be it gender or anything else), it is a mental problem and society should go along with the delusion.

      • TomNJ

        Not attacking, just giving my opinion on the subject. I am sure they truly feel they way they do. But I do not believe it is based on any physical issue, just mental. Therefore, I believe it should be treated accordingly.

      • Michelle H.

        Hopefully this clears up any confusion as to why I continue to haunt this article.

  • mm

    Huh…another loser looking to milk the system…cut his shlong off make him happy.. ugly too eesshh

    • Michael H.

      I don’t think you understood the article. Did you even try to read it?

      • mm

        Michael H.,

        I fart (wet and loud) when I read your comments.

  • Tulay Azize Tuncay

    Wish I could agree, but can’t. Have all the surgery you want, you are still the sex you are born with. I for one refuse to share the women’s toilet with trans-gendered people. They can never be women, they are living a fantasy and demanding that the rest of us play along in their charade. Now MY rights are infringed upon and I am made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe. What about me?

    • Michael H.

      I guess you must be checking between the legs of every woman in every restroom you go into. Or you’re doing DNA tests on them, just to make sure you’re not using the restroom with a woman who was once a man. Right? Your rights are not being violated and you can’t invent rights on the spot like that.

      • Michael H.

        I’m pointing out the absurdity of your comment “I refuse to share the women’s toilet with…” because 9 times out of 10, you won’t even be able to tell you’re doing such a thing.

        I’m not telling you how you should feel. I’m telling you that you don’t have the right to not feel uncomfortable, just as you don’t have the right to not be offended. Deal with it.


      • Tulay Azize Tuncay

        Michael H.,

        Who are you to tell me how I should feel? If I am uncomfortable, damn straight I will make an issue of it. Fool.

  • Jeff R

    Frivolous lawsuit.

  • DeeMee

    Poor he-she no more pee pee watching for you. If only you had one yourself guess you would still have a job.

  • kendra

    yessssssss that is very much of what akk617 said and you never know you might have someone in your family like that ..but i am glad that the man in this particular case is suing that former place of employment its not a matter of who you were in the past it,s just a matter of who you are not in the future to get that particular jpb done

  • Joseph Didonato

    I hope he sues and I hope he wins bigtime. People better get use to diversity
    in this country or else get sued. And yes its better to teach children now so they arent sued later on when then are adults!!!

  • Frank D

    This is laughable. He’s being paid what $5-10 per hour to watch people pee? Geez!

    The only one getting rich here is some lawyer in parasitic fees.

  • Clay Studdard

    Can’t they just give shim two part-time jobs?

  • Steve

    These freakshows have become embolden in the past several years. With Obama’s repeal of DADT, it’s only a matter of time until some dude in a dress “demands his rights” to serve in the military, and represent our country. That’s OK with you? We’ll see how you feel when they “demand their rights” to teach your children. It’s coming.

    • Michael H.

      Actually, that’s all fine with me. Let them serve this country. let them teach our children. They’re human beings, and Americans just like you and me.

      • akk617

        My godson used to be my goddaughter. Although it was a shock at first and I can’t understand fully how he feels since I’m comfortable in my own skin, I came to realize that nothing has changed as he is still the same person and I respect his decision. He is also extremely intelligent, compassionate and grounded so I too, would be fine with them serving our country and teaching our children, etc. As with anything, there will always be a bad apple in every bushel. The “freakshow” label shouldn’t be applied to all. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be labeled as something that you are not by strangers. It is the unknown that is feared. It might help to do a little research before making judgements.

    • Mike Hock

      Steve-O, come out, its ok. NothIng to be ashamed of bro. We will still respect you.

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