Today, a judge ruled that a lawsuit on behalf of TLC client Tanesh Nutall could move forward, rejecting the city of San Francisco’s argument that the city does not have to follow nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people. In 2016, a city employee harassed Tanesh and blocked her from using a women’s bathroom in a government building, calling her a “f—ing man” and a “f—ing freak.”
“It’s outrageous that the city of San Francisco, which prides itself on being a leader on LGBT rights, would argue in court that it’s perfectly legal for city employees to discriminate against transgender community members who enter government buildings,” said Shawn Meerkamper, staff attorney at TLC. “We’re glad the court rejected this offensive argument, but we remain troubled that the city would present itself as above the very nondiscrimination laws it claims to champion.”
Today’s ruling concerned the lawsuit brought by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which states that in discriminating against Tanesh because she is transgender, the City violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act. As a result of the unlawful and discriminatory treatment she faced, Tanesh experienced severe emotional and physical pain, which resulted in her losing her job and home, and led to major setbacks to her physical and emotional health.
“I had to leave San Francisco because, after a city employee verbally attacked me, I no longer felt safe there as a Black transgender woman,” said Tanesh. “Now, the city is arguing they did nothing wrong, and that I don’t have the right to use the bathroom in a city building without being harassed because of who I am. All my life I’d heard about San Francisco as a place where transgender people could be safe and accepted as ourselves, but the city itself is saying that’s a lie.”