Explosive claim of transgender discrimination at Denver tire company

A&E tires says it did not discriminate

DENVER -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EOCC) has filed a lawsuit against a Denver tire company claiming it refused to hire a transgender man because of his sex. 

"What is concerning is that it's sex discrimination and Title VII prohibits sex discrimination," said senior trial attorney Iris Halpern, who filed the lawsuit in federal court in Denver. 

According the complaint, A&E Tire refused to hire Egan Woodward after they found out he was born female, and identifies male. 

The suit claims a manager told Woodward he "had the job so long as he could pass all of the screening process." 

Once he filled out the paperwork saying he was born female, the manager allegedly called Woodward to see if it was a mistake.

"Mr. Woodward said no there was no mistake. The manager pretty much hung up the phone," said Halpern. 

The EOCC claims the manager hung up after saying, "Oh, that's all I need," and hired someone else for the job. 

"Our version of the events is entirely different than that of the EEOC or Mr. Woodward," said A&E Tire CFO, Jolene Ekwall. "Our company maintains that a job offer was never made to Mr. Woodward and the best candidate for the job was hired."

Ekwall said they made several attempts at conciliation with the EEOC with no success and decided last April that if the EEOC chose to file suit, it would be in the best interest of the company to have it settled in court. 

"I think the important thing about this case is that it might be building awareness about the fact that Title VII also ensures certain rights who are applying for jobs," said Halpern. 

LGBTQ employer sex discrimination charges filed by the EOCC are up nearly 120 percent since 2013. The feds credit awareness and more people willing to come forward with the rise in claims.

Halpern said sex discrimination is still a huge problem and this case is no exception. 

"The stigma and stereotypes are very real and continue to exist in society even though we've come a long way," she said. 

To file a sex discrimination complaint against an employer, you don't need a lawyer. 

Halpern said you can file a complaint with the EOCC for free, but it must be filed 300 days from when the alleged discrimination occurs. 

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