In May 2019, attorneys in Greenberg Traurig’s Chicago office represented two of eight transgender women who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of certain statutory restrictions on name changes in the State of Illinois. They had all been restricted from changing their names due to criminal convictions in the last decade.
GT worked with the Transformative Justice Law Project (TJLP) and one of GT’s Equal Justice Works Fellows, Lark Mulligan, to file suit on behalf of the clients in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. One of the women had been restricted from legally changing her name because of a 2015 conviction for aggravated battery in a public place and would not be eligible to change her name until 2026, according to the lawsuit. The GT team on this on this matter included: Shareholder Gregory Ostfeld; Associates Alexandra Block, Martin Kedziora, Lucia Marker-Moore, and Brian Straw; and Law Clerk Joe Leeson and Research Attorney Adam Masarek.
GT attorneys represented a 25-year-old biological woman who identifies as a lesbian, presents as a male, and uses masculine pronouns in an asylum case when he was forced to flee his home country of El Salvador due to threats and harm related to his sexual orientation. Upon entering the U.S., the client was detained and later connected with Human Rights First, with which the firm worked to represent him, He eventually granted asylum in the U.S. and immediately released. The attorneys who worked on this matter included: Shareholder Ginger Pigott and Associate Jennifer Kim.
Greenberg Traurig submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the non-profit organization Children’s Rights, which supported the City of Philadelphia against a challenge to the city’s non-discrimination policy regarding LBGTQ+ foster parents. In March 2018, the city cited this policy when it refused to refer children to Catholic Social Services (CSS), a city-contracted agency that would not approve same-sex couples to be foster parents. CSS sued the city, and the trial court eventually ruled in favor of the city, holding that foster care agencies receiving public funding cannot discriminate against prospective LGBTQ+ foster parents or others on the basis of religious belief. CSS appealed the decision, claiming that the right to free exercise of religion and free speech entitled the agency to continue to receive referrals from the city while rejecting otherwise-qualified same-sex couples as foster parents. In April 2019, the Third Circuit upheld the lower court ruling concluding that the city’s non-discrimination policy is a neutral, generally applicable law, and that the religious beliefs of CSS do not entitle it to an exemption from that policy. The case is Sharonell Fulton et al. v. City of Philadelphia et al., Case No. 18-2574. The team who worked on this matter included: Shareholders Kendyl Hanks and Paul Ferrillo; Associates Justin Bernstein and Nicole Leonard; Research Attorney Adam Masarek; and Business Staff Member Thao Nguyen.