Transgender Woman Sues OR U-Haul For Not Renting Her a Van
A very interesting case is developing in Gresham, OR, where a transgender woman is suing U-Haul for not renting her a van. According to the website Progressives Today, she is suing because " the clerk allegedly looked at her funny and wouldn’t let her rent a van." (Bold lettering added for emphasis).
Annah Smith had previously made the reservation at a U-Haul location in Gresham, and went to pick it up on January 15th. She arrived at the location around 5pm.
According to Progressives Today and KOIN6-TV and the Oregonian:
"When she arrived at the store around 5 p.m., an employee reportedly “looked at her in disgust… then informed [her] that there were no vans available for rental at that location,” court documents show."
“It was a look of disgust,” Smith told The Oregonian/Oregonlive on Thursday. “I sensed from his demeanor that he did not like what I was wearing or the way I looked. … He was friendly to other customers.”
Smith’s Portland attorney, Beth Creighton, said she has a recording later that day of a customer service agent telling Smith and her spouse that there were actually three available vans at the Gresham location that day.
Creighton disagrees with the Bureau of Labor & Industries dismissal. It’s not necessary for an employee to make an overt statement to discriminate, she said. The lawsuit states that U-Haul violated ORS 659a.403, which bars discrimination in a place of “public accommodation” based on “race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is 18 years of age or older.” (Bold lettering added for emphasis). (Bold lettering added for emphasis).
HOWEVER, there are a number of GAPING holes in the story as far as missing information. It was not reported, at least from these sources, if the employee had any idea Smith was a transgender individual. It was not reported if she made any reference to that during the encounter. It appears Smith and her attorney are attempting to pin the behavior on his reaction to her orientation.
How is her attorney going to PROVE the employee's behavior was due to his reaction to her sexual orientation? Apparently Smith was there with her partner, but nothing was said in the story about any insinuation that they were a 'couple.'
Regardless of the transgender situation, if there were vans available and she was told there were NOT, then THAT'S on the company. That's common sense. Her assuming the employee discriminated against her because of her transgender status is a bit of a reach.
There could have been any one of a number of reasons for his behavior. Consumers deserve to be treated courteously by employees, regardless of their race, color, creed or orientation. But for her to sue for $75,000 because of rudeness perceived ASSUMED to be because of her gender is quite the leap.
We all run across rude, crass people in business we deal with, it's part of life. But unless something seriously goes wrong, we learn to deal with it.