Furthering its image as a state of irritable bigots, a Texas car dealership claimed protection under the First Amendment this week in a lawsuit by a former employee who says the business fired him because he’s transgender.
Bradley Rudkin, the former general sales manager of Roger Beasley Mitsubishi, an Austin based car dealership, filed a lawsuit on August 1 claiming wrongful termination from his job. Ruskin, a transgender man, claims the business fired him without warning solely for being transgender.
Lawyers for the car dealership filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the business had a right to fire Ruskin as a matter of free speech. Attorneys for the Mitsubishi dealership have argued that firing Ruskin makes a public statement, and therefore the business was within its legal rights to do so.
Prior to his dismissal, Rudkin won a number of awards for his successful management. During the first year of his employment, the dealership team under Rudkin posted a $750,000 upswing in revenue from the previous year.
Yet, Rudkin says comments about his personal life and gender identity started almost immediately. Within the first three weeks of working at the Mitsubishi dealership, Jim Bagan, a company Vice President, pulled Rudkin aside to ask if he was a cross dresser.
Two weeks before his dismissal, another employee made a lewd comment to Rudkin and his girlfriend — a transgender woman — regarding their genitals. That incident generated substantial laughter and chatter throughout the business.
By invoking First Amendment protections, lawyers for Roger Beasley Mitsubishi would appear to admit that Rudkin lost his job because of his gender identity. Defense lawyers further argue that the First Amendment gives employers the right to out employees as a manner of free speech.