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Mental health counselor files lawsuit, says he was fired because of gender identity

KIEL (CBS 58) -- A mental health counselor filed a lawsuit after he was fired from his former employer, Pathways to a Better Life, LLC. 

"The complaint alleges that the reason for his termination was based on his gender identity," Summer Murshid said, Lammers' attorney. 

Lammers identifies as genderqueer or gender non-binary, meaning he does not identify with one gender. 

"Genderqueer or gender non-binary individuals are people whose gender identity is not fixed male or female -- instead, there is an incongruence between the individual's experienced or expressed gender and the external sex characteristics with which they were born," according to the suit. 

He started identifying as genderqueer or gender non-binary in 2015.

Lammers started working at the addiction treatment center in May of 2017 but did not inform his employer on how he identified. 

“He was hired for his qualifications and then he began to outwardly present his female characteristics," Murshid said. 

Lammers wore women's clothing and "present himself in stereotypically female ways." 

According to the federal civil rights suit, Lammers and his co-workers would have conversations about his gender identity. In the suit, at least three co-workers complained that they were uncomfortable with Lammers' gender nonconformity. 

One stated Lammers' clothing made her feel, "embarrassed, uncomfortable, and speechless." In May 2017, Pathways terminated Lammers because he was unethical and inappropriate. 

Pathway's attorney sent this statement:

"Pathways is aware of Mr. Lammers' claims against it, which the EEOC has already investigated and dismissed. Pathways did not violate the law, and it expects to obtain a similar ruling in federal court."

The suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages. 

“When he was terminated it really hurt and he's been in the process of healing," Murshid said. 

"He" and "his" are Lammers' preferred pronouns.

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