Transgender worker wins workplace discrimination settlement with backing from EEOC

 photo McCreery_zps6da77b95.jpgCori McCreery was working as a clerk in the grocery store Don's Valley Market in Rapid City, SD and had earned a promotion in 2010. Then she announced that she was transitioning from male to female.

Originally given assurances that she would have job security if she transitioned, her employers apparently believed they had no choice but to terminate that employment soon after her announcement. Her supervisors told her she was making other employees "uncomfortable," so she had to go because the company had a "7 million dollar investment to protect."

In 2012 Lambda Legal filed a suit charging employment discrimination in 2012, claiming that workplace discrimination against transgender people is gender discrimination in violation on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Last Monday Lamdba Legal announced that, with backing from the Equal Employment Opportunity Employment Commission, a settlement had been agreed to by the contending parties. Don's Valley Market would have to pay her the maximum allowable of $50,000 for an employer of fewer of 100 employees.

In addition the settlement included a public notice on the EEOC website, public notice on the workplace bulletin board, a mandatory policy in the workplace regarding workplace protections, a letter of apology to Ms. McCreery, and a letter of recommendation in regard to future employment.

Lamdba's transgender rights director, Dru Lavasseur, called the settlement "a strong statement" from the EEOC that workplace discrimination against transgender employees will not be tolerated.

The days of firing people on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression have passed. The EEOC has demonstrated clear support, and we anticipate more victories for transgender and gender nonconforming people.

--Levasseur

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.

--Julie Schmid, EEOC's Minnesota Area Office

McCreery has found employment with another company…one that has received a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.

This gives me hope. The day I was fired, I had no idea what I would do. I now feel a sense of closure and can focus on my future. No one should be fired just because of who they are.

Don Turner, owner of Don's Valley Market, told the Blade that he would comply with the settlement, but declined further comment.

Individuals need to be treated on their merits. I am glad that EEOC staff was available to help this hard-working individual.

--Chai Feldblum, EEOC commisioner

McCreery's story in her own words is at the Lambda Legal blog.

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In an unrelated story...

Robyn's picture

Brubs linked me to an interesting video about a transgender child's journey of self-discovery. The video contains the band Goldfrapp's new song Annabel which is included in their album Tales of Us: Live.

The song is based on the book Annabel by Kathleen Winter.

In 1968, into the devastating, spare atmosphere of the remote coastal town of Labrador, Canada, a child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor fully girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret—the baby’s parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbor and midwife, Thomasina. Though Treadway makes the difficult decision to raise the child as a boy named Wayne, the women continue to quietly nurture the boy’s female side. And as Wayne grows into adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting society of his father, his shadow-self, a girl he thinks of as “Annabel,” is never entirely extinguished.

Alison Goldfrapp appear's as the child's mother in the short film, which was created by her partner, film director Lisa Gunning.

A full length film of the story will appear later this year.

I’d handed Alison Goldfrapp an egg and she’d held it until it bore an infinitesimal crack, and out of that space escaped the longed-for bird girl in each of us, and the bird girl had her wings and could fly.

--Kathleen Winter

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Lyrics for Annabel:

Robyn's picture

When you dream, you only dream you're Annabel.
All the secrets there inside you, Annabel.
Down beneath an emerald sky, sing Annabel.
Nothing that they did will stop you, Annabel.

Land of the lines, tangled there in porcelain.
Under the stars you'll begin.
When you dream, you only dream you're Annabel.
Sleep reminds you, takes you there, oh Annabel.

Gentle whisper, endless winters, Annabel.
Why they couldn't have let you be both, Annabel.
Land of the lines, of the years below still lies.
You are the truth they denied.

Run like the sea, tangled there in porcelain.
Under the stars you begin.
Oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh ah
(Only a boy under that)
Oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh ah
(Only a boy da da da)

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