Although it's been some time since my last post, I can think of no better way to return than to share some of John's recent good news. The Associated Press picked up John's press release yesterday (full text below), and their story has been posted on over 85 newspaper sites this morning.
The State of Colorado has ruled that the firing of a transgender woman was illegal sex discrimination.
In a first-of-its-kind ruling for Colorado, the state’s fair employment practices agency has ruled that Intermountain Testing Company (ITC) of Greenwood Village discriminated against Danielle Cornwell, a transgender woman, on the basis of her sex.
(Denver, Colorado, September 14, 2006) — The Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) has issued a “probable cause” finding that Intermountain Testing Company (ITC) illegally discriminated against its transgender employee, Danielle Cornwell, on the basis of sex when it fired her.
“This finding is a great step forward, not only for Ms. Cornwell, but for all transgender victims of discrimination in Colorado,” said one of Cornwell’s attorneys, Mari Newman of the Denver civil rights firm Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP.
Cornwell, a resident of Arvada, was known for most of her life as David. In June 2005, Cornwell informed ITC that she was a transgender woman and would begin transitioning to the female gender, which would include wearing female clothing and going by the name “Danielle.” Only a month later, ITC terminated Cornwell's employment.
ITC, based in Greenwood Village, is in the business of providing testing services to the construction and manufacturing industries. Cornwell had worked as a radiographer and testing technician for ITC for over 15 years, since 1990.
CCRD concluded that ITC's alleged reason for terminating Cornwell, "lack of work," was not credible but rather a pretext for unlawful sex discrimination. CCRD found that Cornwell was one of the most senior and experienced employees of the company, had a satisfactory job performance, and was the only female technician, while much less senior and less qualified male employees kept their jobs.
“ITC’s decision to fire Ms. Cornwell was sex discrimination, pure and simple,” according to CLIP Cooperating Attorney Mari Newman. “The company was happy to employ Ms. Cornwell as a man doing what it considered to be a ‘man’s job.’ When Ms. Cornwell became a woman, however, the company was no longer willing to allow her to continue the work she had been performing successfully for years as a man.”
Danielle Cornwell expressed gratitude that CCRD has found that ITC had discriminated against her as a woman. “I’ve worked hard all of my life. My work and my abilities did not change along with my gender.”
CLIP Legal Director John Hummel is representing Cornwell with Newman. He added, “We are delighted that CCRD has recognized that transgender employees are entitled to protection under the sex discrimination laws as all other men and women. This ruling follows in the footsteps of similar rulings from other states, and demonstrates Colorado’s clear understanding that discrimination against transgender people is intolerable.”
ITC and Cornwell are now scheduled to participate in a mandatory “conciliation” meeting to attempt to resolve the complaint. The meeting is scheduled at CCRD in early October.
The case is entitled “Danielle Cornwell v. Intermountain Testing Company, Inc.,” Colorado Civil Rights Division (2006). A copy of CCRD’s probable cause determination in Cornwell’s case may be obtained through The Center’s website at www.glbtcolorado.org.