Minnesota-based Deluxe Financial Services Corp. (Deluxe) will pay $115,000 to settle a sex discrimination and harassment lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced last week.
Deluxe hired Britney Austin to work in its Phoenix offices. At the time of hire, Austin presented as a male.
Austin performed her duties satisfactorily, but eventually began presenting as female at work. Deluxe refused to let her use the female restroom, and coworkers subjected her to a hostile work environment, including name-calling and intentionally using the male pronoun to refer to her.
According to the EEOC, “Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, including that based on transgender status and gender stereotyping.”
The EEOC emphasized that this matter represents the third lawsuit it has filed alleging discrimination based on transgender status. Last April, a Florida eye clinic paid $150,000 to settle a suit brought by the EEOC on behalf of an employee transitioning from male to female, and another suit brought against a Detroit funeral home under similar facts is still pending.
Employers should exercise caution when and sensitivity when working with transgendered employees, as the EEOC is obviously very interested in such cases. MSEC has expertise in this area and is happy to assist. Read the full EEOC press release here.