As if lesbians suing Christian bakeries wasn’t enough, a new case is now developing in Gresham, Oregon. It centers around a transgender woman who’s now suing U-Haul for $75,000 because the clerk allegedly looked at her funny and wouldn’t let her rent a van.
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Annah Smith reserved a U-Haul van to pick up at the company’s Gresham store at 704 NE Hogan Road on January 15, 2015.
When she arrived at the store around 5 p.m., an employee reportedly “looked at her in disgust… then informed [her] that there were no vans available for rental at that location,” court documents show.
The Oregonian adds:
“It was a look of disgust,” Smith told The Oregonian/Oregonlive on Thursday. “I sensed from his demeanor that he did not like what I was wearing or the way I looked. … He was friendly to other customers.”
Smith’s Portland attorney, Beth Creighton, said she has a recording later that day of a customer service agent telling Smith and her spouse that there were actually three available vans at the Gresham location that day.
Creighton disagrees with the Bureau of Labor & Industries dismissal. It’s not necessary for an employee to make an overt statement to discriminate, she said. The lawsuit states that U-Haul violated ORS 659a.403, which bars discrimination in a place of “public accommodation” based on “race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age if the individual is 18 years of age or older.”
Smith said the experience has left her shaken. She feels anxious now going into stores and businesses.
“I’m like, ‘Is this going to happen to me again?'” Smith said. “What do I do if this happens again?”
She worries about being out alone at night because she’s aware of hate crimes against transgender people, she said. That was on her mind when — under the direction of the Gresham U-Haul employee, she says — she drove up to the Troutdale U-Haul, and saw it closed.
“It just freaked me out when I was pulling into that darkened, dimmed place,” Smith said.
Bake me a cake! Rent me a van!