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Transgender woman settles suit against DMV for employee misconduct

An employee of the DMV in San Francisco was suspended without pay after an incident in which he used private information about a transgender woman to mail her harassing materials. The transgender woman went to the DMV in order to change her name and sex on her driver's license. The employee complied with the request, but later he looked up the woman's private information and sent materials to her home address that told her that she was going to hell for being transgender.

The employee had done this before, but was not terminated at that time. All employees had to undergo diversity training. The transgender woman sued the DMV and the man saying that he violated her privacy rights and that the DMV should have fired the man after he violated a person's privacy for a similar reason in the earlier incident. After the man was suspended without pay, he quit last December.

The woman's attorney said that the lawsuit was meant to uphold the privacy rights of the woman and of all people in California. The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court. The lawsuit accused the Department of Motor Vehicles of violating the woman's civil and privacy rights through the privacy breach of her personal information. 

The lawsuit maintained that the DMV employee should never have used private information to contact the woman. The woman's attorney hopes that the settlement of the lawsuit will underscore the importance to employers and employees of keeping people's private information private in California.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, "Transgender woman settles DMV suit," Bob Egelko, Aug. 16, 2011

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