The Maryland Court of Appeals is considering a request from a transgender woman who alleges the system discriminated against her on the basis of gender identity in its handling of her claim of wrongful termination.
On Tuesday, the court heard arguments from attorneys for Jane Doe, a trans woman in Maryland who has sued the court for $500,000 for her termination, which she alleged was triggered by her being denied access to her birth certificate.
Doe said that when she applied for a job in 2006, the employer said she was “not a qualified candidate,” despite her being legally married to her biological mother.
The Maryland Court’s Rules and Procedures Committee recommended in a June 24 decision that the appeals court reconsider the ruling, which the judges in June reversed.
The committee said that while the case was about a gender-neutral issue, the rules committee had concluded that “it would be unfair to apply the law to a trans person who is a woman, for whom the rules would not apply, on the grounds that she has been discriminated against.”
The Maryland Supreme Court ruled last year that the Maryland Court System violated a trans employee’s rights under Maryland law when it denied her a job.
The court said it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
Deegan argued that because the court had not yet ruled on the appeal, the appeals panel’s ruling does not apply to the matter because it did so long ago.
But in an order released Monday, the state Supreme Court said it would take the matter to the appellate court, which will hear the issue in a closed session.
In the ruling released Monday by the Maryland Supreme court, the justices wrote that the appellate panel’s decision was “contrary to the fundamental principle of due process,” and also noted that the case is not about gender identity, but rather a claim of wrongfully terminated employment.
The appeals court also said that the court would not hear the appeal because “the merits of the claim have not yet been adjudicated.”
The appeals panel cited several court decisions that said the state court system cannot discriminate based on gender identity.
Deesan was denied access, and her attorney, John B. Jones, argued in a brief filed Monday that she had a right to her job because she was a woman and that discrimination on the same basis was unlawful.
The decision by the appeals board comes on the heels of a similar ruling from the Maryland state Supreme Judicial Court in a similar case, which said the court cannot consider the merits of a transgender employee’s claim of sexual orientation discrimination because that case was “out of court.”
Deehan sued the Maryland court system in 2006 over her termination from a restaurant that she worked at.
Her lawsuit was brought under Maryland’s anti-discrimination law, and she alleged that she was fired for being transgender.
She was fired from the restaurant because of her refusal to provide sex-specific restroom service.
The Maryland Supreme Judicial Circuit ruled in February that the restaurant discriminated against Deegan because of sex and claimed that she should have been hired for a position that required sex-based bathroom service.