Transgender Police Officer Banned From Workplace Restroom
Can the government require genital surgery as a condition for equal treatment at work? That’s essentially the question that Brad Roberts faced.
For more than two decades, Brad has worked as a police officer for Clark County School District (CCSD) in Nevada, protecting the safety of the school community.
CCSD is the largest employer in Nevada, with more than 40,000 employees, and is the fifth largest school district in the country.
Brad is a man who is transgender. Although assigned female at birth, his gender identity is male. He began living openly as a man as part of his gender transition. That included using the men’s restroom, like other men.
But CCSD put a stop to that. In 2011, it banned him from the men’s restroom. He could only return if he submitted proof of genital surgery to conform his body to what CCSD believed was appropriate for a man.
Imagine if the government told any other male employee that his private parts didn’t measure up to its standards, and he needed to get surgery to be treated like a “real” man. Or if a boss told a female employee that her breasts were too small, and she needed to get surgery to be treated like a “real” woman.
For an entire year, Brad had to suffer the daily indignity of being banished from the restrooms that others used. The literal and figurative message was clear: You are not welcome here.
The ban was lifted only after a state civil rights agency investigation found probable cause that CCSD had engaged in discrimination. But CCSD continues to insist in court that it did nothing wrong, so that any employer should remain free to ban transgender employees from the restroom.
Lambda Legal has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in Brad’s case. It urges a federal court in Nevada to hold that denying transgender employees the ability to use the same restroom as others of the same gender violates federal and state laws against sex discrimination.
Employers don’t get to impose their sex stereotypes on employees. And that protection does not stop at the restroom door. Access to appropriate restrooms is an essential element of all workplaces, and one most of us take for granted.
Brad, a loyal employee for decades, clearly deserved better treatment, and so do others.