Cori 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.
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.