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Complaint: New Orleans police rescinded offer to trans man

May 18, 2021 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A transgender man filed a federal discrimination complaint against the New Orleans Police Department after his job offer was rescinded on unspecified psychological and behavioral grounds.

Britton Hamilton was offered a job with the agency in December, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported, but it was pulled a month later. The 33-year-old told the news outlet Monday that his transition was focused on for an unreasonable amount of time during the psychological evaluation process for the job.

“Just to be denied because of my gender was very heartbreaking,” Hamilton said. “My being trans doesn’t affect my capabilities to serve my community.”

The police department didn’t address the specifics of the allegations in a statement issued Monday but denied that it discriminated against Hamilton.

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“The decision not to move forward with the applicant in question did not involve any discrimination against the individual as a member of a protected group,” the agency said.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment.

According to the complaint, filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Hamilton’s hiring process started encountering issues when the police department learned he changed the name assigned to him at birth.

Hamilton has undergone elective surgeries and taken hormone treatments to live as a transgender man. His transition legally occurred in 2016.

While Hamilton applied for a job with the New Orleans police in June and received a conditional offer in December, the complaint says a cisgender man who applied around the same time received an offer by September.

That man was given a uniform and supplies needed to complete the training academy for the job, according to the complaint, but Hamilton was not. Instead, he was told that he had to pass medical and psychological screenings.

Hamilton said he was asked whether his parents accepted his transition and if he had supportive friends. The department also asked for additional medical and employment records.

After submitting those, Hamilton received an email from a city official in January saying he couldn’t be hired “based on a psychological assessment of (his) emotional and behavioral characteristics.” It said further details on the evaluation couldn’t be released.

A physician who provides hormone treatments to Hamilton signed a letter a week later saying he was “intelligent, responsible, reasonable and kind.”

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Hamilton’s attorney, Chelsea Cusimano, told the news outlet that most people who file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission don’t have such powerful evidence.

“Something is not adding up, and we have to get to the bottom of it,” she said.

While the commission rarely takes up cases, Hamilton could sue the New Orleans Police Department for damages after the complaint is reviewed. He told the news outlet that he still hopes to become a police officer somewhere.

“I love helping people,” Hamilton said. “That’s always been my calling.”