Transgendered South Jersey Man Sues Over Camden, NJ Drug-Center Firing

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) – A transsexual New Jersey man is suing his former employer, saying he was fired because he wasn’t born a man.

El’Jai Devoureau, of Gloucester County, NJ, worked at the Camden-based Urban Treatment Associates.

His job was unusual, watching men urinate to insure that drug tests were not subverted or contaminated.  It is also one of the few jobs in New Jersey for which gender could be listed as a job qualification.

Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which filed the lawsuit after Devoureau was fired, says it’s the first such case in the US.

“To find ourselves in this situation, where there’s an actual sex-based qualification for the job, and the question comes, is this transgender person sufficiently male — or in another case, sufficiently female — for the job is one that no court has addressed,” he told KYW Newsradio today.

Devoureau, 39, was born with female genitalia but says in his legal complaint that he always considered himself male.

He has undergone counseling and male hormone treatments.  About five years ago he had sex-reassignment surgery.  His driver’s license, birth certificate, and Social Security cards were all reissued to reflect that he’s a man.

He says managers at Urban Treatment Centers in Camden believed he was a man when the drug treatment center hired him in June to monitor men as they gave urine samples for drug tests. Because of its nature, the job was open only to men — a prerequisite his lawyer says was appropriate.

According to his lawsuit, Devoureau went through one day of training. When he reported to work the next day, he said, a manager asked if he was male. He said he was, and the manager then asked if he had undergone any surgeries, according to the lawsuit. After he refused to answer, the lawsuit says, Devoureau was fired.

The company won’t comment on the lawsuit.

Reported by Karin Phillips, KYW Newsradio 1060

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