Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-08-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Transgender woman files suit against Aurora employer
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2011-05-18

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Meggan Sommerville—a transgender employee who has worked for a Hobby Lobby store in Aurora for 13 years—has filed two charges of discrimination alleging Hobby Lobby discriminated against her when it denied her use of the women's restroom and then wrote her up for using the women's restroom.

Sommerville began to transition from male to female in July 2010. That same month, Sommerville legally changed her name from Mark Thomas Sommerville and additionally had her Illinois driver's license gender marker changed from male to female.

According to Sommerville, she has been forced to use the men's restroom—a situation she finds "distressing," according to a statement. If forced to use the men's restroom, Sommerville said that she waits until there are no men using the facility. On Feb. 23, 2011, Sommerville utilized the women's restroom because she said she could not wait for the men's room to be vacant. In addition, she said that she has even modified her workplace intake of fluids to minimize being forced to use the men's restroom; additionally, she said that she waits for her lunch break to walk to a nearby business to use its women's restroom.

According to its website, Hobby Lobby sells "arts and crafts supplies, fabrics, baskets, silk flowers, needlework, picture framing, party supplies, furniture and related items." The company, based in Oklahoma City, Okla., has 475 stores in 40 states. In addition, the corporation has a web page devoted exclusively to ministry projects ( www.hobbylobby.com/our_company/ministry.cfm&; except for the Distribution Center on certain days during the winter holiday season, all locations are closed on Sunday, out of respect for the Christian beliefs of its founder, David Green.

On its statement of purpose page, the company says that it aims "to effectively serve our owners, employees and customers the Board of Directors is committed to, [among other things], honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles." (In an email to Windy City Times, Hobby Lobby said, "We are looking into this legal matter and will respond at an appropriate time.")

Sommerville told Windy City Times that when she initially informed co-workers and employers of plans to transition, the reaction was "mixed." She added that "some people were supportive. ... People have been pretty good about working with me and not being hostile." When asked who informed her that she would have to use the men's room, Sommerville said that "management was the conduit to how I was informed. This decision was made at a corporate office."

Sommerville added she's "the first transgender person they've had to deal with, so we're all in very unfamiliar territory."

Asked if she was aware of the company's conservative atmosphere, Sommerville responded, "Considering I grew up in a conservative Baptist background in Wheaton, I myself have very strong Christian beliefs. To me, I knew I would run into—and I don't want to vilify Hobby Lobby, because it's a good company—issues where people would see this as a spiritual issue instead of a medical one. There's been a lack of understanding. ... I was hoping for a little bit more cooperation."

"Transgender employees in Illinois are protected against discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment," said Sommerville's attorney, Betty Tsamis, in a statement. "We believe having access to an appropriate restroom facility is a term and condition of employment. Denying someone such access because of their gender identity violates the Illinois Human Rights Act. Since the restrooms are available to the general public, we believe Hobby Lobby's actions violate the public accommodations protections of the IHRA," Tsamis also said.

The case is pending before the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). The next step in the process is that the charges will be served upon the employer and the employer will have an opportunity to respond. From there, the parties are free to resolve the matter. If resolution fails, the IDHR will conduct a full investigation and move the charges through its appropriate channels which could result in a hearing before the commission or a civil court action.

Sommerville told Windy City Times that she would like to "be able to use the women's restroom without being written up, and [in the long term] would like some sensitivity training. It's never been about money.

"It's about common sense and fairness. If the governing body of the state of Illinois and the secretary of state's office sees me as female, and that's what's on my driver's license, I don't understand why a company can see me any other way."


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Condemns Trump's Proposed Transgender Military Ban 2017-08-18
Trans advocates discuss military ban 2017-08-16
EI solicits pro-trans support at state fair 2017-08-16
ELECTIONS 2018: GOVERNOR J.B. Pritzker talks campaign, trans cousin and state budget 2017-08-16
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Declan McKenna: Breakout star on trans teens, identity 2017-08-16
National roundup: Trans-ban responses, NYC beating, History Month Icons 2017-08-15
Texas House Adjourns Without Passing New Anti-Transgender Bill 2017-08-15
Houston restroom bill dies again, 50,000+ Texans took action to oppose 2017-08-15
Sixteen trans, gay Central America migrants seek asylum in U.S. 2017-08-14
Final arrested SlutWalk protester released on bail 2017-08-13
Channyn Lynne Parker accepts BYC post 2017-08-12
Trans, gay Central American migrants to arrive at US-Mexico border seeking asylum 2017-08-11
HRC Reacts to Trump's Delusional Assessment of Transgender Troop Ban 2017-08-10
Report: Trump's Trans Ban Would Cost $960 Mil, 100 Times Cost of Health Care 2017-08-09
Lawsuit filed against Trump ban on transgender military servuce 2017-08-09
BOOKS Riki Wilchins discusses trans movement memoir 2017-08-09
In legal win EEOC says Walmart discriminated against transgender employee 2017-08-08
Lambda Legal: See you in court, President Trump 2017-08-05
LGBTQ suicide hotline calls from trans youth spike since Trump tweet 2017-08-02
Chicago Gender Society event Aug. 8 2017-08-02
POLITICS Eventful week involves DoJ, ACA and transgender ban 2017-08-02
City Council introduces pro-trans, Renslow resolutions 2017-08-02
Transgender man alleges CPD harassment and mistreatment 2017-08-02
Lambda suit ends suburban Pittsburgh school district's anti-trans policy 2017-08-01
56 retired Generals, Admirals: Implementing Trump's anti-trans tweet would harm readiness 2017-07-31
Lambda Legal, OutServe-SLDN: We'll Sue in a Heartbeat if Tweet Becomes Policy 2017-07-28
Forty four senators urge Secretary Mattis not to implement ban on trans military service 2017-07-28
60 veterans call on SECDEF to oppose "trans ban" 2017-07-28
Ban on military service by trans adults could impact 15,000+ now on duty 2017-07-26
Equality Illinois condemns President Trump's rejection of transgender servicemembers 2017-07-26
Trump announces ban on transgender people in U.S. military 2017-07-26
Transgender mental-health survey launched 2017-07-26
Couple files bias complaint against Akira 2017-07-26
Advocates release report on medically unnecessary intersex surgeries 2017-07-25
Suicide attempt reported at Osterman Beach 2017-07-23
National LGBTQ Task Force Launches Transgender Mental Health Survey 2017-07-21
Anti-LGBTQs in Anchorage try to gut protections for transgender residents, visitors 2017-07-20
GLSEN responds as Sec. of Education stonewalls on policy on LGBTQ students 2017-07-19
United State of Women holds Chicago summit 2017-07-19
New sitcom stars transgender actors 2017-07-19
 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.