Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amber Yust Case Settled

The Transgender Law Center announced yesterday that Amber Yust has settled her privacy and civil rights lawsuit filed against the California DMV and the employee who precipitated it.

In October 2010, Thomas DeMartini, a San Francisco area DMV employee who had a known history of denying equal service to transgender customers, retained Yust's personal information through his employment at the DMV.   He then used the information to send her materials condemning her transgender status, and calling for homosexuals to be "put to death."

DeMartini was suspended for his action, and Yust through her attorneys Chris Dolan and the Transgender Law Center, filed a lawsuit in December 2010 against the DMV, alleging violating of her rights under the California Information Practices Act and Unruh Civil Rights Act.  Yust brought similar claims against the DMV employee, who voluntarily resigned from his position with the DMV shortly after the incident.

The matter was resolved with the State of California for $40,000, and with the former DMV employee for $15,000.  According to the Transgender Law Center press release, as part of the settlement, the DMV agreed to work with the Transgender Law Center in an effort to incorporate transgender sensitivity into its ongoing employee training. 

Chris Dolan said, "this suit affirms the right of all people to equal access to government services, regardless of their orientation or decision to make a transition to live life as their full and complete self.  In the big picture, this suit promotes the privacy rights of all Californians by ensuring that confidential information retained by our government stays confidential."

Kristina Wertz, legal director of the Transgender Law Center said "All Californians have the right to do something as simple as going to the DMV without fear of harassment and threats of violence. What happened to Amber reminds us that for transgender people, our state's promise of equal treatment is often unfulfilled. The case serves as a reminder to all businesses that nobody should be treated differently simply because of who they are."

Amen, and thanks for the wonderful work.

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