On April 13, 2015, NCLR, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Altshuler Berzon LLP, and Delaney, Robb & Ruvin filed a lawsuit against Tower Loan for firing an employee because he is transgender.
Tristan Broussard was hired as a Manager Trainee in Tower Loan’s Lake Charles Branch. During his first week on the job, he was called into a back office and instructed by a Company Vice President to sign a document stating that his “preference to act and dress as male” was not “in compliance with Tower Loan’s personnel policies.” When he refused to sign the agreement, Tower Loan fired him.
Tower Loan, a privately owned finance company that operates more than 180 branches in five states, including Louisiana, has more than 700 employees and serves more than 200,000 customers. During an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Tower Loan argued that federal antidiscrimination laws do not protect transgender workers.
In fact, courts across the country have repeatedly recognized that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimination, protects transgender workers. The EEOC, which is the primary agency charged by Congress with interpreting and enforcing Title VII, has also made clear that employers cannot fire or refuse to hire employees solely because they are transgender.
In late 2016, an arbitrator ruled that the company discriminated against Broussard “because of his sex” in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The order directs the company to pay Broussard more than a year of pay, as well as emotional distress damages.