Transgender security guard in Hawaii sues state, Department of Public Safety and sheriff’s deputies on claims of sexual harassment

Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! A transgender male security guard has sued his employer G4S Solutions (USA), the state, the Department of Public Safety and sheriff’s deputies in federal court on claims of sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The complaint filed Sept.

10 in U.S. District Court for Hawaii also alleges retaliation, infringement of First Amendment and civil rights, and negligence in training and supervision by the state and DPS. Sally Tolentino, also known as Tino Tolentino, is employed as a security guard for the private firm G4S Solutions, which was contracted to provide security services for state courthouses.

Assigned female at birth, Tolentino has been in the process of transition, and alleges he was sexually har-assed by sheriff’s deputies during the summer of 2019 at the Ronald T.Y. Moon Judiciary Complex in Kapolei. The complaint contends that as a transgender man he is in a legally protected class, citing state and federal law.

In 2011, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill into law that prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. Gov.

David Ige in 2015 signed into law a bill that allows transgender people to change their gender on their birth certificates. Previously, Hawaii required them to undergo gender reassignment surgery to make that change. Tolentino’s complaint alleges deputy sheriffs Samuel Kanoe, Glenn Park and others “engaged in extreme and outrageous behavior toward Plaintiff, which were done with malice and with the intent to cause, or the knowledge that it would cause, severe emotional and mental distress to Plaintiff.”

“The discriminatory conduct was so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society.” Due to the continued sexual harassment and retaliation, Tolentino has been unable to return to work since April 4, 2020, according to the complaint. It began in summer 2019 with a deputy sheriff, not named as a defendant, repeatedly asking him in front of state and G4S employees and members of the public why he was undergoing gender reassignment surgery and giving up his birth name, the complaint alleges.

On Aug.

29, 2019, while Tolentino was posted at the Judiciary complex, Kanoe allegedly sexually harassed him by telling him he was “still a female” until he underwent sex reassignment surgery, and made comments about his private parts, the complaint alleges. On Sept.

12, 2019, Kanoe allegedly approached Tolentino, while posted at the front checkpoint of the Judiciary complex, looked at him and said, “We need a real male,” saying he disapproved of transgenders and that he would “never be a male.” Kanoe denied all allegations when contacted by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

When the Star-Advertiser read Kanoe the allegations, he chuckled and said, “I never said those. It’s a working environment. I wouldn’t have said something like that.”

He said of transgender individuals, “That’s their life. They can do what they like.” Park did not return requests from the Star-Advertiser for comment.

Tolentino filed a written complaint for discrimination on Sept.

12, 2019, complaining about the Aug.

29 and Sept.

12, 2019, incidents. Following the filing of that complaint, sheriff’s deputies began treating him differently, the complaint says. On Sept.

19, 2019, he was allegedly denied access to the unisex restrooms he previously had regular access to, the complaint said. Tolentino was assigned extra work, requiring him to handle multiple duties performed simultaneously, which was typically assigned to multiple security guards, the complaint alleges. After Tolentino reported his allegations to his employer, G4S failed to take remedial steps to correct the situation or to move him to a different location, the complaint says.

G4S said it does not comment on pending litigation. “However, we take these matters seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation,” the company said. When he tried to obtain his employment records Aug.

13 at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to apply for unemployment insurance benefits, deputy sheriffs denied him access into the building, although they were admitting other members of the public into the building for the same purpose, according to the complaint. The complaint also blames the state and DPS for failing to establish and enforce supervisory policies and training for its employees.

Spokespersons for the Public Safety and Attorney General departments said they cannot comment on pending litigation.

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