A Texas car dealership is attempting to use the First Amendment as its defense in a lawsuit from a former employee who claims he was fired for being transgender.
Bradley Rudkin, a trans man and the former general sales manager of Roger Beasley Mitsubishi, filed a lawsuit against the dealership that claimed wrongful termination from his job after being fired without any prior warning. Rudkin is arguing that he was fired simply because he was transgender, and claims that Beasley managers put him at risk by disclosing his trans status to the company’s other employees.
Lawyers for the dealership filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that firing Rudkin made a public statement, giving the employers a right to fire him as a matter of free speech. They also said that revealing his trans status was an “exercise of the right of free speech on a matter of public concern.”
Rudkin was a successful manager, reportedly helping the dealership to post a $750,000 upswing in revenue from the previous year. But the former employee says he dealt with abuse stemming back to his first month working there, when the vice president of the company asked him if he was a crossdresser.
In another incident that took place right before he was fired, Rudkin claims that employees made crude comments about his genitals when he was visited at work by his trans girlfriend.
Lawyers for the dealership made it clear that Rudkin lost his job due to being trans when they decided to invoke the First Amendment as a defense, arguing that the law gives employers the right to out employees as a matter of free speech.