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HOBBY LOBBY IN CENTER OF ANOTHER CONTROVERSIAL DEBATE REGARDING A TRANSGENDER EMPLOYEE

Posted by Samuel A. Wong | Jul 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

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Meggan Sommerville worked for Hobby Lobby in Aurora, Illinois as a frame shop manager for sixteen years. In 2010, Sommerville underwent a transition and legally changed her identity and gender to female. Though she claims her co-workers were relatively positive of the process, Sommerville claims management began discriminating against her for being a transgender woman.

In 2011, Sommerville began her lawsuit against Hobby Lobby with the Illinois Department of Human Rights because the craft chain refused to allow her to use the women's restroom facility. Instead, the company insisted she continue to use the men's facilities.

Sommerville had to wait until the men's restroom was empty before she would enter. On one occasion, Sommerville could not wait and she used the female restroom. She was disciplined immediately. Though the suit was initially dismissed, it was reinstated by the Human Rights Commission.

According to the pending suit, the management at Hobby Lobby informed Sommerville that unless she “undergo genital reconstructive surgery” she would not receive “equal treatment as a female employee.” When Sommerville was caught in the women's restroom, she felt like she was getting written up for merely acting her appropriate gender.

Because she was barred from using the gender appropriate restroom, Sommerville was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, bladder problems, and dehydration because she had limited fluid intake. Further, the complaint alleges that Hobby Lobby's policies resulted in Sommerville's “over-anxiousness, embarrassment, shame, depression, anxiety, emotional distress, feelings of helplessness,” as well as a sleeping troubles.

Hobby Lobby is asserting the same conservative ideologies used in the infamous Supreme Court decision.

About the Author

Samuel A. Wong

Samuel A. Wong is a renowned Orange County trial lawyer and a Co-Founder of Aegis Law Firm. Mr. Wong has spent his entire career litigating employment related matters, including wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, wage, disability and medical leave cases. Mr. Wong is also an expert ...

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