Target: Jenny R. Yang, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair
Goal: Comply with judge’s ruling and allow transgender employee to use women’s restroom.
A company is ignoring a recent ruling ordering them to stop discriminating against a transgender employee. Long time, loyal Hobby Lobby employee Meggan Sommerville has worked at the Hobby Lobby location in East Aurora, IL since 1998. When she began working there, she presented as male. In 2007, she, with the store’s knowledge, began transitioning to female.
In 2010, she changed her name tag to her new female name and had the name change legally recognized. Hobby Lobby was comfortable with these changes and was also accepting of allowing her to dress as female, but they refused to let her use the female restroom.
She was told either to use the male restroom or wait until her lunch break, which could be as long as six hours from the start of her shift, and use the bathroom at the fast food place across the street. In 2014, Hobby Lobby consented to build a “gender neutral” bathroom, which is still the only bathroom Meggan is allowed to use. Once, when she was off the clock and in the store as a customer, she attempted to use the women’s room and was given a written warning.
Hobby Lobby kept asking Meggan for more and more personal documentation proving her gender, but Judge Borah rejected all of their requirements stating, “respondent (Hobby Lobby) contends that being anatomically correct makes a female, however, absence of male genitalia does not make a female, as that could occur by illness or injury.” He further points out that attempting to enforce such a policy about bathroom use would be difficult at best and likely lead to some sort of frisk-before-use procedure.
Hobby Lobby also contended that her presence in the female restroom would make other employees uncomfortable. Judge Borah, however, points out that a co-worker’s potential discomfort is not a viable reason for discrimination and goes on to state that if anyone is uncomfortable in the women’s room with Meggan, that person could use the unisex restroom.
Although Judge Borah handed down this ruling five months ago, Hobby Lobby has done nothing to show they intend to comply. Meggan is still not allowed to use the female restroom. Sign to demand that this discrimination ends immediately.
Dear Ms. Yang,
About 2.3 percent of people employed in the U.S. are transgender. Fortunately for them, we have laws prohibiting discriminating against them in the workplace solely based on their gender identity. Unfortunately, these laws are not always adhered to or enforced.
A recent ruling in Illinois is one such instance. Meggan Sommerville began her long-time employment with Hobby Lobby presenting as a man. During the time she worked there, she underwent her gender transition with Hobby Lobby’s knowledge. Now that it has been completed, Hobby Lobby will not allow her to use the women’s restroom in the store.
Administrative Judge Borah has ruled in Meggan’s favor that she be allowed to use the restroom and that Hobby Lobby is wrongly discriminating against her, but Hobby Lobby hasn’t changed their ways or given any indication they intend to do so. We ask that you step in to ensure that Meggan’s rights are protected and that she is allowed to use the women’s bathroom while she is at work.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DangApricot