Thursday, June 17, 2010

Another Lawsuit against Denny's for Discrimination

 A transgendered Denny's employee sues for discrimination...

Briana Freeman had been using the women’s restroom at a Denny’s in Auburn, Maine for about a year, until in October 2007 a manager asked her to stop.  Last year, she sued Realty Resources Hospitality, the franchise owner of the Auburn Denny’s for the right to use the women’s restroom.

This week, the judge hearing Freeman v. Denny’s denied Denny’s request to drop the case. Androscoggin County Superior Court Justice William Brodrick wrote, “When viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the plaintiff, Ms. Freeman has adequately plead a claim that Denny’s prohibited her from using the women’s restroom because of her sexual orientation.”

“I live and breathe as a female every day. I dress it, I portray it. I exhibit it,” said Freeman in an interview with The Main Public Broadcasting Network. “I would feel too vulnerable and very much at physical risk of being attacked by any of the male patrons.”  Maine is one of 13 states in the nation with anti-discrimination laws that protect transgender individuals in the spheres of employment, housing, and public accommodations.  Even with legal protection, transgender individuals still face regular discrimination.

Patrick Mellor, the attorney representing Realty Resources Hospitality, said “It’s our position that Denny’s took the appropriate step and asked the plaintiff, whose legal name is Bruce Freeman and who was described as the sex of male at birth, to use the men’s restroom. That’s not a discriminatory action.”

The Maine Human Rights Act, which was extended to add “sexual orientation” to its list of protected classes in 2005, defines sexual orientation as “a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or gender identity or expression.”

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