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Lawsuit Questions Definition of "Man"

Lawsuit Questions Definition of "Man"

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El'Jai Devoureau, a transgender man in New Jersey, filed suit after he was fired from a job that his employer said only a man could perform.

The New York Times reports on the potentially groundbreaking lawsuit filed Friday in superior court in Camden, which hinges on "the question of who is or is not a man."

Devoureau was fired last summer from his job as a monitor watching men urinate into plastic cups at Urban Treatment Associates, a drug treatment center in Camden. His supervisor heard he was transgender on his second day at work, and he refused to answer her questions about whether he had any surgeries. He was fired, which sparked his complaint to the state civil rights division.

"Civil rights laws and court decisions allow limited cases of favoring one group over another, like giving preference to women for jobs as nurses in maternity wards," reports the Times. "In its January filing, Urban Treatment said that firing Mr. Devoureau was legitimate, 'since the sex of the employee engaged in that particular job position is a bona fide occupational qualification' -- implying that Mr. Devoureau was not really a man."

Devoureau, 39, underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006, and his birth certificate, driver's license, and Social Security records identify him as male, according to the Times.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represents Devoureau, said it is the first of its kind to challenge the firing of a transgender person from a job where being a male or female is a job qualification. New Jersey law bans job discrimination based on gender identity or expression, but the transgender legal group said that no cases using the 2006 law have been brought to a verdict.

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Lawsuit Questions Definition of "Man"

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