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Court denies car dealership’s motion that outing trans employee was ‘free speech’

Court denies car dealership’s motion that outing trans employee was ‘free speech’

A judge in Austin, Texas has dismissed a motion filed by Roger Beasley Mitsubishi in light of a discrimination lawsuit by a transgender former employee.

Back in August, Bradley Rudkin filed a lawsuit against their former employer, claiming discrimination based on their gender identity.

The lawsuit came shortly after they were fired from the dealership without any warning or notice.

Rudkin alleges they were let go from the dealership because of their gender identity. During Rudkin’s time there, they were hassled about their transgender status.

In October, Roger Beasley Mitsubishi filed a motion to dismiss Rudkin’s lawsuit, citing ‘free speech.’

The dealership claimed that Rudkin’s transgender status was a matter of ‘public concern,’ and thus their lawsuit should be dismissed.

What happened next?

On 28 December, United States Magistrate Judge Andrew W. Austin signed a document recommending that the district judge overlooking the case deny the dealership’s motion.

‘Though Rudkin’s actions revealing [their] transgender status publicly might conceivably impact [their] damage claim, it does not mean that issue was a matter of public concern at the time the statements [they] sue[d] upon were made, given that all of the statements were made before the lawsuit was filed, and before Rudkin’s statements to the media,’ the official document, acquired by GSN, reads.

‘More to the point, the TCPA [Texas Citizen’s Participation Act] defines a matter of public concern in detail, and requires that it be an issue related to “(A) health or safety; (B) environmental, economic, or community well-being; (C) the government; (D) a public official or public figure; or (E) a good, product or service in the marketplace.” Rudkin’s gender identity fits within none of these categories. Thus, Roger Beasley has failed to establish Rudkin’s invasion of privacy claims are based on, relate to, or were in response to Roger Beasley’s exercise of a right of free speech as defined by the TCPA. For this reason as well, the motion to dismiss should be denied.’

‘Although this comes across as a preliminary order due to the word “recommendation,” it is obviously thoroughly researched, well written, and I believe serves as a signal from a Federal Magistrate Judge that the Motion to Dismiss [should be] denied,’ Rudkin tells GSN. ‘It also is tagged with a friendly warning that appears to suggest that Beasley’s entire argument lacks substance and merit.’