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Transgender restroom flap escalates to lawsuit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

When Meggan Summerville had to go to the restroom one day on her job at a Hobby Lobby store in Aurora, she used the ladies’ room—and was reprimanded for it. The problem, as far as her boss was concerned, is that Summerville was born Mark Summer­ville and is transitioning from male to female.

Summerville has now filed suit against her employer, claiming she now has to control her fluid intake and go to another store to use the restroom. Despite having a driver’s license that shows Summerville to be a woman, her boss still forces her to use the men’s room.

The Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) protects transgendered em­­ployees from discrimination.

Summer­ville alleges in her suit that Hobby Lobby not only discriminated against her in the workplace, but also in its role as a public accommodation.

The Illinois Department of Human Rights has launched an investigation, and if mediation efforts fail, the case could move to court. Meanwhile, the parties are free to settle the matter at any time.

Note: Remember, that the IHRA protects more classes of workers than federal legislation does. Employers may not discriminate based on an employee’s transgender status.

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