Well-Performing Employee Fired Because of Gender Identity, Agency Charged
MINNEAPOLIS -- In a conciliation agreement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a Rapid City, S.D., supermarket owner has agreed to pay $50,000 to a former employee who was fired for being transgender, the EEOC announced today.
An investigation by the EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office revealed that the owner of Don's Valley Market terminated the well-performing employee, who had recently been promoted, after she indicated her intent to present as a woman. Following the investigation of the discrimination charge filed by the former employee, the EEOC determined that there was reasonable cause to believe that the company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In addition to the EEOC's recent decision on sex discrimination, Macy v. Department of Justice, EEOC Appeal No. 0120120821 (April 20, 2012), there has been a steady stream of district court decisions finding that claims of discrimination based on transgender status, also referred to as gender identity, are cognizable under Title VII's sex discrimination prohibition.
"Employers need to be made aware that their personal myths, fears, and stereotypes about gender identity can subject them to liability if they act upon them in an employment setting," said Julie Schmid, acting director of the EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office.
EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum said, "Individuals need to be treated on their merits. I am glad that EEOC staff was available to help this hard-working individual."
In addition to paying $50,000, the conciliation agreement requires Don's Valley Market to obtain professional anti-discrimination training annually for all of its employees; implement and distribute an anti-discrimination policy to all employees; report all future complaints of discrimination to the EEOC; and provide the former employee with a letter of apology and a neutral letter of reference.
The EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office is part of the Chicago District, which has jurisdiction over Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North and South Dakota. The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the agency can be found on its website at www.eeoc.gov.