By Becky Rogers
A car dealership in Austin, Texas is being sued for discrimination by a transgender employee. The dealership claims the First Amendment, freedom of speech, gave them the right to out the employee to other staff members.
Bradley R. Rudkin, a trans man and the former general sales manager of Roger Beasley Mitsubishi, filed the lawsuit on 1 August. This comes shortly after he was fired by the dealership without notice or any written or verbal warning. In the lawsuit, Rudkin claims he was let go from the dealership on the basis of his gender identity.
On 12 October, the dealership filed a motion to dismiss Rudkin’s claims. In the motion, the dealership seeks to dismiss Rudkin, the Plaintiff, because ‘those allegations constitute a legal action that is based on, relates to or is in response to Defendant’s exercise of the right to free speech on a matter of public concern.’
What happened while Rudkin was working?
According to PRLog, within the first three weeks of Rudkin’s employment at the dealership back in 2015, Rudkin was approached by Jim Bagan, the company’s vice president. Bagan asked Rudkin for a ‘quick conversation,’ during which he allegedly said ‘I hear you are a cross-dresser.’ When Rudkin, after an uncomfortable silence, asked ‘Do you really want me to comment on that?’ Bagan said ‘No, just keep it professional’ and walked away.
On a separate occasion, Rudkin’s girlfriend, a transgender woman, visited him at the dealership for lunch. While eating lunch in Rudkin’s office, a co-worker allegedly shouted ‘Hey, You guys aren’t sucking each others (Expletive) in there are you?’ Laughter from other employees followed the comment.
It was two weeks after that incident when Rudkin was terminated.
The Nichols Law Firm, which specializes in matters of LGBTI rights, is representing Rudkin.