David Yates Apr. 14, 2008, 9:50am
Attorney Gilbert T. Adams
A Jefferson County refinery worker has sued his former employer, alleging the company discriminated against him because he is transgender.
Gerald Jeanmard, a male in the process of gender transition, claims KT Maintenance Co. refused to recognize his gender identity, engaged in sexual stereotyping and refused to provide him with a bathroom at the job site.
Jeanmard's suit – filed on April 10 in the Jefferson County District Court – claims KT Maintenance's egregious conduct, which "cannot be tolerated by society," entitles him to punitive and exemplary damages.
Jeanmard is biologically male but is undergoing gender reassignment to become a female, and "has at all material times presented himself as a transgender female." He alleges KT Maintenance was fully aware of his gender identity but chose to terminate him rather than accommodate his transgender needs.
Problems arose for Jeanmard, he claims, when his male co-workers objected to his presence in the men's restroom. He then tried using the ladies' room, but when the women objected Jeanmard says KT Maintenance reassigned him and then fired him.
According to Jeanmard's lawsuit, on March 17, 2007, he was working as a fire guard for KT Maintenance at the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur.
KT Maintenance is a Port Arthur-based company that provides safety attendants and other construction employees to petrochemical facilities throughout Southeast Texas.
"Following his assignment to the Motiva refinery, a course of sex/gender discrimination was commenced against (Jeanmard) by KT Maintenance, including the objections and restriction of his privilege to use either the men's or the ladies' bathrooms," the suit reads.
"Initially, Jeanmard was using the men's bathroom at the refinery but his presence was objected to by other male workers," the suit states. "This prompted him to begin using the ladies' bathroom, which was then objected to by the female workers."
The suit states that KT Maintenance was made aware of Jeanmard's "predicament regarding the bathroom issues because of his transgender identification."
"However, instead of making a reasonable effort to remedy the discrimination against the Plaintiff, the Defendant continued to condone and permit the discrimination to continuously occur on the job site," the plaintiff claims.
On July 13, 2007, Jeanmard was called into the office, where he claims KT Maintenance personnel instructed him not to use either the men's or the ladies' bathrooms at the refinery.
According to the plaintiff's lawsuit, KT Maintenance's solution was for Jeanmard to call the office for an escort each time he needed to use the bathroom, "even though the Defendant was fully aware that a telephone was not accessible at the refinery and workers were not allowed to have cell phones at the refinery."
Jeanmard voiced his concerns, insisting that calling for a bathroom escort was not a practical solution and claims he was then told "not to return to work at the refinery the next day, but to report to work at the Human Resources Department instead."
"On or about July 16, 2007, when Plaintiff reported to work at the Defendant's Human Resource Department as instructed, he was told he was no longer employed because his position at the Human Resource Department had been eliminated by upper management," the suit states.
Jeanmard claims KT said he would be placed on a "Call List" and notified of job openings but was never called, even though he learned there had been fire guard positions available at other facilities.
On Oct. 24, 2007, Jeanmard filed a discrimination complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division, which was forwarded to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for investigation.
On Jan. 22, 2008, Jeanmard received a right to sue notice from the EEOC, the suit says, and hired attorney Gilbert T. Adams.
Adams writes in the suit that KT Maintenance discriminated against his client "by failing and refusing to recognize his sex identity, engaging in improper and discriminatory sexual stereotyping, failing and refusing to provide him bathroom privilege at the job site and by making unreasonable requirement that the Plaintiff call for an escort before he could go to the bathroom."
"This type of egregious conduct cannot be tolerated by society at large and exemplary damages must be awarded against this particular Defendant to show other defendants like this Defendant that this type of conduct will not be tolerated."
Jeanmard is also suing for past and future mental anguish and lost wages.
Gilbert T. Adams is senior attorney at the Law Offices of Gilbert T. Adams, founded in Beaumont in 1930 by his father and is also the chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party.
Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.
Case No. B181-572